The new CT budget, once signed by Governor Ned Lamont, will end up favorably for Branford over the next 2 fiscal years, with an increase in state aid on its way.
The increase, approximately $193,000 in 2020 and $390,000 in 2021, is made up almost entirely of increases to Branford in the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) dollars.
There is also a savings from the budget initially proposed by Governor Lamont, as the Teacher Retirement Benefits that were scheduled to be charged back to the town, have been removed from the budget. Had they been included, Branford taxpayers would have needed to pay the state just over $616,000 over the next two years.
While Branford fares well overall, the state budget also includes a series of tax increases, notably increasing or adding sales tax in specific items, to offset the cost of not putting the teacher retirement benefits back on the towns. Lamont attempted to do so after Malloy attempted the same the last few budgets.
The state budget has become something of a guessing game each town budget season for Branford and municipalities statewide, as local budgets are passed prior to the state budget, and the impacts are not yet fully known at that time. The teacher pension issue has been a particularly troubling matter as it can mean a significant increase to the increases on a local level.
Branford fared better than other shoreline towns. While Branford saw an increase of about 8% overall, North Branford dropped about 2%, and Guilford dropped 7%, or almost $200,000.
State representative Robin Comey was pleased with the budget.
“I am pleased with the biennium budget agreement passed by the House, because it prioritized our children by upholding the ECS funding formula, investing in early education, and stabilizing the teacher’s retirement fund. These are the investments we must support if we want our students to succeed,” said Comey. “It is responsible, stable and holds the line on spending which was one of my main concerns. We’ve worked hard to present a budget that is a reflection of our values and provides for future objectives. With this budget, I believe we offer not only growth, but security for the residents of the state.”