The fight for a fair budget that invests in public education has ended in the legislature with a bipartisan agreement that does not substantially cut ECS funding or shift the cost of teacher retirement onto cities and towns. Teachers do not agree with everything in the budget, but we do appreciate the effort of legislators to protect education funding for our students and schools, and to solve the budget impasse.
We are pleased that many thousands of teachers contacted their legislators—urging them to invest in public education—and that their voices were heard.
We are dismayed, however, that after receiving tens of thousands of emails and calls from teachers, legislators still voted to increase the payroll tax on teachers. While we appreciate the fact that legislators reduced the two percent increase in the teacher tax down to one percent, this increase does not strengthen the teacher retirement fund—it simply allows the state to reduce its share and pocket the $38 million in new tax dollars paid by teachers. This is wrong because teachers have reliably contributed their fair share every year.
These 117 days have been extremely tough and anxious for all of us, but especially for our students, our schools, and our teachers—who were targeted with a variety of cuts to close the state budget shortfall. Teachers recognize the challenges facing the state and the tough decisions that must be made, and going forward we encourage legislators to not shortchange students, their futures, and the future of our state.