A memo by the US Department of Education’s Inspector General raises concerns about the way Connecticut is using federal stimulus money.
Federal officials says Connecticut may have violated the spirit of the stimulus program by cutting state spending for education and simply replacing it with money from Washington. Governor Rell’s original budget proposed flat funding education for 2010 and 2011. But a fter passage of the federal stimulus plan, she reduced the state’s contribution to public schools by 14%.
Special Assistant to the Governor Matt Fritz, says Connecticut has followed the federal guidelines. "I do not think that we are any different than any other state that’s out there. These monies were to stabilize the situation. If this money was not available, other aspects of government might have had to be cut back or we might have had to significantly increase taxes to support some of these core services."
In order to receive federal stimulus funds, states must maintain their contribution to education to at least 2006 levels. In Connecticut, that amounted to a spending cut. Fritz points out that federal dollars have helped to preserve or create more than 4,000 education jobs in the state. He plans to formally respond to Washington in the coming days. State officials want to be sure the conflict doesn’t jeopardize future stimulus funding for education.