HARTFORD — Rep. John Rigby and his colleagues today renewed their efforts to dump costly state mandates that are taxing towns and cities, including delaying new in-school suspension rules and redefining the age of juvenile offenders. They plan to raise the subject during a legislative session next week.
The majority-party budget approved Sept. 1 imposes a moratorium on school construction because it uses nearly $8 million in debt service for other pet projects, Rigby said, and cuts state aid to municipalities from the Pequot Fund by $48 million. The majority party rejected Republican proposals seven times since last November to lift or delay municipal mandates because of the state budget crisis.
“The budget they passed earlier this month has hidden costs for communities throughout the state that have already laid off firefighters, teachers, police and town hall employees,” Rigby said. “Over and over we heard rhetoric about protecting towns and cities, but the effects of the state budget are now a reality for these towns.”
Rigby and his colleagues introduced a five-point local mandate relief proposal that they will try to pass next week. The plan was developed in response to mayors and first selectmen and promoted by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, CCM. The proposals that will be offered next week include:
• Delaying implementation of the in-school suspension of students that will require millions to hire additional certified personnel and identify dedicated space;
• Delaying implementation of policies that raises the age of juvenile offenders from 17, a program that will cost towns and police department $95 million in personnel and constructions costs;
• Delaying the requirement that towns and cities post meeting agendas and minutes on the web;
• Requiring a two-thirds majority vote by the legislature to pass any more mandates;
• Adding “services’’ to the list of purchasing contracts that DAS can enter into for municipalities.