Statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen
While Governor Malloy’s message in his address to the General Assembly emphasized Connecticut’s tradition of fairness and concern for future generations, his budget proposal is anything but fair for Connecticut’s students and public schools.
Connecticut must make education a priority by reversing draconian cuts that jeopardize our students’ futures, and by restoring critical funds to our public schools that were promised in the legislature’s bipartisan budget passed last fall.
Parents, teachers, and communities across the state are dealing with the destructive consequences of last year’s cuts—fewer resources for children, layoffs of educators, increases in class size, program and enrichment cuts, and disruption in our schools and communities in the middle of the school year.
Connecticut must stop underfunding and endangering our students’ futures. We must develop a new ECS plan that provides a fair, reliable, sustainable, and equitable funding source for all students, regardless of where they live. A new funding plan will ensure our local public school students have the critical resources, tools, and support they need to achieve.
We are hopeful that legislators will work with the newly created Connecticut Achievement and Resource Equity in Schools (CARES) Commission, which will provide expertise and recommendations regarding the distribution of state education funds to ensure fairness so that students in every community have the resources needed to succeed. We cannot fail our students.
Teacher Retirement Fund
Governor Malloy’s budget proposal to restructure payments the state must make to the teacher retirement fund is necessary to protect the system and the teachers who have dedicated their lives to teaching our students. CEA supports this initiative, but the plan must go further. The state must also repeal the increase in the teacher payroll tax. The ill-advised increase in the payroll tax actually increased the state’s pension obligation debt by $20 million. The state must keep its promise to teachers and fulfill its obligation to the state teachers’ retirement fund so that it will be financially solvent over the long term.
We all share the goal of ensuring the long-term solvency and stability of the state teachers’ retirement fund; that includes both reamortizing the fund and repealing the teacher tax.