Governor Lamont today announced his administration’s budget proposal for the next two fiscal years in an address to the joint chambers of the general assembly. His budget includes statutory increases to state education funding and prescribes using federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to address educator shortages, combat absenteeism, and fund universal school meals.
The governor’s budget maintains a legislative plan passed in 2017 to increase Education Cost Sharing (ECS), state education funding for municipalities, over a 10-year period. The governor’s budget calls for allocating an additional $45.4 million in ECS funding starting July 1 and an additional $45.3 million above that for the following fiscal year.
CEA and some legislators have been calling for greater increases in ECS funding so that districts can ensure smaller class sizes and offer more competitive salaries to combat the teacher shortage.
“Our budget allocates an additional $10 million for flexible grants that will help districts address staffing shortages,” Lamont said of one of the ways he’s proposing using federal funds. “This is funding that districts can spend on programs like supporting apprentice teachers and accelerating the pipeline for the next generation of teachers. Earn while you learn and earn while you teach.”
He added, “The most important education reform is a great teacher in the classroom.”
“We couldn’t agree more,” said CEA President Kate Dias. “We encourage lawmakers to use the governor’s budget as a starting point to take big, bold action to address Connecticut’s teacher shortage crisis—to bring more teachers into the profession as well as keep those who are currently in the classroom. We must do so before it’s too late.”
She continued, “CEA will continue to advocate for an investment in our schools that is significant and done in a way that ensures class size reduction, more attractive teacher salaries, and resources targeted toward making classrooms better places to learn and teach.”
Dias urged Connecticut officials to listen to President Biden who, during his State of the Union address last night, said, “Let’s give public school teachers a raise.”
Tomorrow lawmakers in Hartford are planning to hold an emergency vote to allow $60 million in federal funds to be used to offer school meals to all students through the end of this school year.
CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey testified before the legislature’s Children’s Committee yesterday in favor of expanding the state’s school meal program. “Many children who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals refrain from applying or participating to avoid stigmas associated with being identified as low-income,” she said. “Even though teachers often reach into their pockets to buy meals for students, many others go silently hungry from class to class.”
The budget process is now in legislators’ court. Subscribe to the CEAdaily for the latest from the Connecticut General Assembly as well as updates on how you can get involved to advocate for your students and your profession.