Legislators are back in Hartford today for the opening of the 2024 Legislative Session. Governor Ned Lamont gave his annual State of the State Address to the combined chambers outlining his budgetary priorities for the year—and it came with pros and cons for teachers.
In his remarks Lamont recognized that teachers and paras need additional help, highlighting his support for the state’s Ed Rising program, which encourages high school students from diverse backgrounds to pursue teaching careers, and the teacher apprenticeship program, which pays college students studying to become teachers to assist in K-12 classrooms. “That means extra attention for that student who may be feeling lost,” Lamont said.
The governor’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of the initial teacher licensure application fee, which costs aspiring educators approximately $1 million each year—a step in the right direction to address the persistent teacher shortage—continues universal free breakfast and expanded free lunch to additional qualifying students, and adds $5.7 million to a planned increase in Education Cost Sharing grants.
Unfortunately, the governor’s proposal also cuts $60 million in funding already approved by the legislature for magnet, charter and vocational schools.
“Connecticut prides itself on having one of the best education systems in the country, but that requires continued investment,” says CEA President Kate Dias. “These proposed cuts will have negative consequences for students’ academic achievement and emotional growth at a time when their needs are greater than ever. The impacts will be felt everywhere, but especially in our most vulnerable communities. If we are going to address the lingering problems caused by the pandemic and our state’s persistent teacher shortage, then we must prioritize the funding necessary to turn things around.”
The governor’s budget proposal is the first volley in a months-long process by which the state arrives at its final budget for fiscal year 2025. Legislators will soon be holding public hearings to get feedback from constituents and will fashion their own budget proposal for the coming year.
2024 is a “short session,” meaning the legislature only meets for three months, and CEA’s Legislative Commission has therefore developed a targeted list of priorities that was approved by the Board of Directors.
CEA’s primary focus will continue to be addressing the statewide teacher shortage and growing the teaching profession. Additional priorities include establishing a minimum starting salary and tiered salary enhancement for certified teachers, protecting teachers’ right to advance on the salary schedules in their contracts, acknowledging teachers’ role during the pandemic by offering COVID-19 Hero Pay, aligning the election of all four seats for retired teachers on the Teachers’ Retirement Board, and protecting and enhancing the state’s commitment to funding teacher pensions. Read more.
Your Voice Matters
On Saturday, February 24, CEA members have a chance to talk directly with legislators to make sure decisionmakers understand what’s going on in your classroom and what you and your students need to be successful. Join us at the Legislative Office Building from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for the second annual CEA Breakfast with Legislators. Register today.