CEA today made a strong case for Connecticut to aggressively pursue a predictable, sustainable, and dedicated revenue source to cure the chronic state underfunding that plagues public schools and municipalities across the state.
“We are calling for the establishment of a comprehensive property tax reform commission that will provide strategic planning and a new revenue system that will allow cities and towns to be less dependent on local property taxes and will make education opportunities more equitable,” said CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg.
Waxenberg will outline the plan to lawmakers tomorrow when he testifies before the Legislature’s Education Committee on the issue of education funding. CEA’s bold plan also calls for the creation of the Connecticut Achievement and Resource Equity in Schools (CARES) Fund. CARES would allow the state to focus on a sustainable revenue stream that allows Connecticut to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to fully fund public education to provide all children with the funding and resources they need to succeed.
Under this plan, state funding of local public schools would no longer be the responsibility of the general fund. Competition for general fund revenues has prevented fully funding the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant, let alone meeting more ambitious spending targets for public education.
Instead, a new dedicated fund would support local public schools. CARES would address inadequate resources and inequity across Connecticut by
- Ending persistent underfunding of ECS and other key grants
- Ensuring sufficient resources in all of Connecticut’s cities and towns, especially those less capable of generating revenue
- Allowing predictability and sustainability in grant allocations to municipalities
“CARES would truly reform our education finance system to ensure that all students receive adequate and equitable educational opportunities, the basis of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding case now under appeal by the Connecticut Supreme Court,” said Waxenberg.
The fact that Connecticut’s current school funding system has rarely, if ever, met its goals is unmistakable. The state currently underfunds public education by more than $700 million per year.
“This new comprehensive approach to funding schools would indeed show dedication to public education and fulfill the state’s responsibility to preparing our students to compete globally and its commitment to creating a strong economy,” said Waxenberg.
According to CEA’s plan, instituting a dedicated revenue source would
- Address unequal local tax burdens
- Protect future grant amounts and education funding from arbitrary changes in the budget process
- Safeguard the state’s commitment for education funding from state budget volatility
“While we are not necessarily advocating for any specific revenue source, we believe it is long overdue for the state to create a commission and put property tax reform and dedicated funding for schools front and center. As policymakers and experts begin working on balancing the state budget, this bold, new goal is a long-overdue approach that can help our struggling communities,” said Waxenberg.
The Connecticut Education Association represents 43,000 teachers in Connecticut.