Tesoro — Budget must be based on fact, not hope

First Selectman Vicki Tesoro
First Selectman Vicki Tesoro

To the Editor:
Education is critical to Trumbull. I, and others, came to Trumbull based on the excellent reputation of our public schools. I began with no children in the system, then one, then two, then one and finally back to none. Throughout that time, I and others fought for smaller class sizes, instructional chairs, good pay for teachers, and curriculum upgrades. Much of what we now enjoy in our system is the result of the effort of those, like me, who fought for an outstanding education product. I believed then that a strong education system was essential. I still believe that today.

The Board of Education (BOE) did its job by requesting an increase of over 4 million dollars (4.3%). I would like to accommodate the request, but that is not possible. We must continue to invest in education. However, we must live within our means. Those means are impacted by proposals coming from Hartford. The Governor’s budget proposal cuts Trumbull’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant by $655,538. Furthermore, his proposal calls for a new $510,870 contribution to the Teacher Pension Fund. That impacts our budget by almost 1.2 million dollars.
I believe Trumbull is unfairly impacted compared to other communities. With our State delegation, I will do everything possible to eliminate or reduce the negative impact of these proposals. I met directly with both the Governor and the Lt. Governor and spoke to the State Treasurer. I will continue to fight for our Town.
I cannot budget based on hope. I must budget based on facts. It is the responsible and fiscally conservative thing to do. The $2,070,735 (2%) increase is appropriate under the circumstances.
Prior to my taking office, the BOE increases were 1.7% and 1.4%. My first year in office, the BOE received 3.1%. This year I proposed 2%. Both of these amounts are higher than those of the last two years of the previous administration. There were no staff reductions or other student impacts then, and I expect our BOE will work diligently to avoid staff reductions and maintain the high-caliber education our children deserve.
I will meet with the PTA to explain my budget. I expect they will do what I did, fight for more. That is their role and I respect them for it. I will urge them to reach out to the State to overturn the State proposals. If that happens, I will work to add money to the BOE and reduce our tax increase. Without the combined impact from the State of the loss of ECS revenue and addition of the Teachers' Retirement expense, the tax increase could have been as low as 1.4%.
I promised that I would present honest, transparent, and gimmick free budgets keeping any tax increases as low as possible. That is exactly what I have done.
Vicki Tesoro,
first selectman