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Waterbury Republican-American: Lamont sets up an education battle in Hartford

 -  Paul Hughes, Waterbury Republican-American

Supporters of K-12 education and early childhood education funding claimed Thursday that Gov. Ned Lamont is trying to pit them against each other in a budget fight.

State legislators from both parties, education and town leaders, and children’s advocates leveled the accusation while rallying against Lamont’s proposal to reallocate funding for school choice programs to early childhood care, education and development programs.

The governor’s office immediately pushed back after Thursday’s rally, releasing a statement from Lamont and Jeffrey Beckham, the state budget director, defending the administration’s budget proposal.

The latest exchange in an escalating policy dispute broke out when Lamont proposed a revised $26.1 billion state budget Feb. 7 on the opening day of the 2024 legislative session.

Lamont agreed to a concession in the negotiations on the bipartisan two-year, $51.1 billion that passed last year to add $150 million in education funding. He and the legislature will be making adjustments to the second year of that adopted budget plan.

The message Thursday from legislators and other critics of Lamont’s proposed reallocation of public school and early childhood education funding was they intend to hold Lamont to the deal he made last year.