Today the legislative session begun in Hartford, and Governor Malloy gave his annual “state of the state” report. Education funding and pensions are once again being targeted. With a legislature split almost equally between the two parties, it will be more urgent than ever for teachers to stay aware of legislative developments and actively participate in contacting their representatives.
Here are some highlights from today’s media coverage:
Fox 61 (with video)
Everyone in Connecticut will be impacted by the issues raised today at the Capitol in Hartford in Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s annual “State of the State” speech. For our union members who provide education, health, safety, and other vital public services that depend on lawmakers to adequately fund them, his words carried particular resonance. That’s because the budget the governor proposes next month will have significant consequences for their students, their patients and their communities.
Click here for the governor’s full speech.
His reference to “state employee concessions” may give some the impression that the governor expects a small minority of the population to resolve Connecticut’s fiscal challenges. The reality is that the scope of the problems facing us all requires a broader, far more comprehensive approach.
“As always, we are willing to work with state elected leaders to find a way forward in a difficult economic environment,” said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. “But we are not willing to be scapegoats or political cover for politicians unwilling to make better choices. We are not willing to abandon our defense of public services — and the women and men who provide them — that make Connecticut a great place to live, work and raise a family,” added Hochadel, who previously taught physics and science in the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS).
Click here for recent reporting on a study of the state’s positive business climate.
Members of the unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) are already providing over $1 billion dollars annually in ongoing budget savings. Over the past eight years they have ratified two separate agreements to sacrifice wages and benefits in exchange for protecting the vital services they provide for residents.
Click here for the 2011 cost-savings agreement with the Malloy Administration.
Additionally, middle and working class families — including state employees — bear a greater share of the burden to provide students with textbooks, plow roads and highways, and care for the elderly. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Connecticut’s state and local tax system is the 26th most regressive in the nation.
Click here for more on our state’s unfair tax system.
That simple fact alone is reason enough to demand real tax fairness — and for an adequately-funded state government that is able to provide the services that everyday people need.
While union members have time and again been willing to do their part, Connecticut’s budget issues cannot be resolved solely on the backs of middle class families. Nor can they be fixed by passing the burden to local communities or by decimating public health, safety and other vital services our citizens deserve. The governor today underscored that point in his remarks on the need for a more equitable system of funding public education — particularly for communities “that are struggling the most.”
Last year’s experience here in Connecticut proved that it is impossible to balance budgets — let alone improve economies, grow jobs or reduce inequality — through cuts alone.
Click here for an economic analysis on the failure of austerity policies.
The governor today also acknowledged the importance of all stakeholders “working together” to address the fiscal challenges facing Connecticut. Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers had already “pre-filed” legislation to undermine the ability of state employee union members and the executive branch to negotiate fair and effective solutions. They went a step further and this morning proposed an unnecessary amendment to further undercut the collective bargaining process.
Click here for the language of the proposed rule change.
In a video message to members of AFT Connecticut-affiliated unions last night, President Hochadel called for the voices of everyday people — and especially union members — to be heard. In addressing the importance of urging state lawmakers avoid the mistakes of 2016 she said “perhaps more than ever, we must raise our voices together” in 2017.
Click here to watch Hochadel’s message to union members.