Bristol Federation of Teachers

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Governor’s Proposed Budget — February 3, 2016

Governor’s Proposed Budget

Current budget projections by the General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, show a budget deficit of $72.2 million for current FY 2016 and estimated deficit of $507million in FY 2017.  With that backdrop, Governor Malloy presented his FY 2016-2017 budget adjustments proposal during his state of the state address to the General Assembly at noon today.

In a major departure, Malloy’s budget proposal would establish a new method of allocating funds to agencies.  Instead of budgeting individual line items, the Governor has proposed that agencies receive aggregate sums from which they will budget for individual programs.   It provides state agencies greater discretion over the money it allocates, but it also requires them to post detailed information online explaining how they are spending the money.  Many legislators have expressed concern that this proposal will dilute the General Assembly’s authority, but it is not yet clear if they will oppose adoption of this style of budgeting.

The Appropriations Committee will hold a series of budget hearings over the next couple of weeks and then work in subcommittees to develop their alternative budget proposal.  They must vote a proposal out of committee by March 31.  Then, House and Senate leadership will begin negotiations with the administration.  A final compromise budget package is expected to be passed before the legislative session adjourns at midnight on May 4.

 

Below are the key highlights of the Governor’s budget proposal that impact AFT Connecticut members.  As more details become available, we will share them with you.  You can read the entire budget, summary documents, a PowerPoint presentation and the text of the Governor’s speech on Governor Malloy’s website:

http://portal.ct.gov/Departments_and_Agencies/Office_of_the_Governor/Gov__Malloy_s_FY_2017_Midterm_Budget_Adjustments/

 

OPM Secretary Barnes also suggested that if revenue projections do not improve, the FY 2018-FY 2019 biennial budget will require an additional 9% in cuts to discretionary spending.

 

The Governor’s budget plan includes:

 

  • No tax increases
  • $569.5 million in overall cuts:
    • $90.5 in ongoing savings from cuts made in December 2015 special session
    • $118.2 million in new spending cuts
    • 75% ($360M) cut in overall across the board spending reductions
  • $10.6 million built-in surplus
  • Personal property tax exemption for businesses with property under $10,000 (cost $6M)
  • $31M in cuts to various PILOT grants

 

PreK-12/PSRP

  • Flat funds ECS at FY 2016 levels, which is essentially a $11.5M cut
  • Consolidates most programs SDE into Agency Operations and cuts that line item by $53M. Among the cuts are:
    • $1.3M from school transportation
    • $1.5M for adult education
    • $2.5M from priority school districts
    • $8M from excess cost grants
    • $3M from Open Choice
    • $18.6M from magnet schools
  • Reduces staff in SDE Central Office and CTHSS $841K
  • Eliminates general grant funding for RESCs $750K, but maintains $350K for minority teacher recruitment efforts
  • Eliminates Adult Ed pilot programs in Manchester, Meriden, New Haven $400K
  • Eliminates CommPACT Schools funding $350K
  • Eliminates funding for Adult Alternative HS and Adult Reading Incentive Programs $200K
  • Eliminates grant funding for after school programs $172K
  • Eliminates line item for CTHSS and merges its funding with SDE as a whole, even though they have their own Board of Education
  • Eliminates funding for Even Start $452K
  • Eliminates funding for Early Literacy Program $142K
  • Cuts support for School Based Health Centers $477K
  • Teachers’ Retirement Board
    • Cuts Retiree Health Service Cost $147K
    • Cuts Municipal Retiree Health Insurance Cost $54K
    • Assumes restructuring of TRB unfunded liabilities

 

Higher Ed

  • Block grants include fringe benefits for General Fund supported employees and create a separate grant to cover pension liabilities for tuition funded employees.
  • University of Connecticut
    • UConn Storrs block grant cut $19M
    • Adds $5.4M for Next Generation Connecticut
  • University of Connecticut Health Center
    • UConn Health Center block grant cut $12M
    • Allocates $90K to Hospital Roundtable for implementation of Public Act 15-146
    • Preserves UConn Health Center fringe benefit differential for Dempsey employees
    • Added $3.2M for BioSicence
  • Board of Regents*
    • Adds $14.6M for Community Tech Colleges
    • Adds $40.6M for CSUs
    • Adds $2.3 M for a new incentive fund for outcomes based financing to promote student success for low income students

*We have been notified that there are errors in the Board of Regents block grants and the published budget book includes incorrect numbers.  We will forward corrected information when it becomes available.

 

Connecticut Dems Let Down Teachers, Fail to Override Malloy Vetoes — July 20, 2015

Connecticut Dems Let Down Teachers, Fail to Override Malloy Vetoes

From the Hartford Courant

HARTFORD — There was a rare debate in a veto session Monday, but as expected, the House of Representatives did not override Gov. Dannel Malloy’s veto of a bill that would have stipulated qualifications for candidates for state education commissioner.

The debate was unusual because the Democratic majority normally has enough votes to block any attempt to override vetoes by the Democratic governor. But some Democrats wanted to debate the issue, and 17 House Democrats voted to override the veto.

The bill called for setting qualifications for the education commissioner, an effort rooted in controversy around Malloy’s first pick for the job, Stefan Pryor. Pryor had a law degree from Yale University and a background in economic development, as well as experience as a deputy mayor in Newark, N.J. But he didn’t have a background in classroom teaching, which some educators said should be required for the state’s top education post. Pryor announced late last year that he was stepping down.

The legislature had passed a bill that called for the education commissioner to have five years of experience in the classroom, three years as an administrator and a master’s degree in an education-related field.

State Rep. David Alexander, an Enfield Democrat who voted to override the veto, said the proposed requirements were a common-sense measure that had overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.

“This seems like a logical prerequisite that got vetoed, which is wrong,” Alexander said. “I worked in the classroom as a substitute teacher when I was in law school, and I learned valuable insights about how students learn and how other teachers teach. … If it was a good idea, then let’s override the veto.”

The veto session Monday was required by the state constitution. To override a veto, there must be 101 votes in the House and 24 in the Senate. Monday’s vote on the education commissioner qualifications fell short, with 62 votes in favor and 21 against. Sixty-eight members were absent.

The 17 Democrats who voted to override Malloy’s education commissioner bill veto included Deputy Speaker Linda Orange of Colchester, Deputy Majority Leader Michelle Cook of Torrington, and Roberta Willis of Salisbury, co-chairwoman of the higher education committee.

The House adjourned soon after the education vote, and the members did not discuss any of Malloy’s eight other vetoes. As such, all nine of his vetoes were upheld. Later Monday, the Senate took no action on the vetoes.

Veto overrides are rare because they require a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the legislature. Since Malloy took office in 2011, none of his vetoes has been overturned.

The situation was different in the Senate Monday, where Democrats succeeded in avoiding a debate. Majority Leader Bob Duff said “there is no point” to debate because the House had already adjourned.

After several minutes of procedural confusion, the Senate cast a party line vote of 18-12 to adjourn their session without a debate, infuriating minority Republicans.

“I’m very disappointed the way this came out, and I’ll leave it at that,” Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven said on the Senate floor.

Courant staff writer Andrew M. Duehren contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant

Teachers Betrayed Once Again by Connecticut Legislature — July 18, 2015

Teachers Betrayed Once Again by Connecticut Legislature

From the Hartford Courant

By Christopher Keating

Legislative leaders say no action will be taken Monday to override any of Gov. Malloy’s nine vetoes

HARTFORD — Finding no consensus to take action, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Friday that there will be no overrides of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s nine vetoes in the legislative session.

Some legislators and advocates had been pushing for overrides on some education bills, but the Democrat-controlled legislature has not overridden a veto since Malloy, a Democrat, took office in January 2011.

Republicans said Friday that they will show up at the constitutionally required veto session Monday prepared to overturn Malloy’s decisions.

“Fortunately, this is not a decision for only the majority leaders to make,” House Republican leader Themis Klarides and Senate Republican leader Len Fasano said in a joint statement. “Under our constitution, it is up to the legislative body’s majority vote to consider an override of a governor’s veto.

“As such, there should be an opportunity for the assembly as a whole to voice its opinion. To gavel in and out without any reconsideration and without hearing input from all lawmakers violates our constitutional duty and therefore our obligations as elected representatives.”

The state’s largest teachers union said it was upset with the apparent lack of action on a bill that would have set specific qualifications for the commissioner of education.

“Educators across the state are shaking their heads in disbelief today wondering why legislators, who overwhelmingly passed HB 6977, An Act Establishing Qualifications for the Commissioner of Education, have today decided against an override of the governor’s veto of the bill,” said Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association.

Malloy Vetoes Bill Setting New Education Commissioner Requirements
“Clearly there is something wrong when state law requires high standards for all professionals in the education community except the person at the helm — the commissioner of education,” he said. “It’s distressing that the commissioner of corrections, who oversees prisoners, is required to have specific industry experience, while the state’s education chief, who safeguards our most precious resource, our children, is not required to have education experience.

“We will revisit this issue again in the next legislative session and urge legislators to once again support the measure and right this wrong by requiring reasonable qualifications for the state’s education chief, similar to the qualifications required of the commissioners of corrections, public health, emergency management, and other state agency heads.”

Veto overrides are rare because they require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the legislature: 24 votes in the Senate and 101 votes in the House of Representatives.

Govs. William A. O’Neill and John G. Rowland both served 10 years in office and never had any vetoes overridden. During the past 75 years, Gov. Lowell P. Weicker had the most vetoes overturned, with 17, while Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell had 16 overturned by a Democratic legislature in 61/2 years.

Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant

Legislature Vs. Malloy During Special Session to Finalize Budget — June 22, 2015

Legislature Vs. Malloy During Special Session to Finalize Budget

Governor Malloy is proposing a 1.5% cut across the board to finalize the budget and get it passed through the legislature in a special session this week. Here is what those cuts would look like (and these are in addition to cuts already made in the original budget proposal).

State Employees:

·         Contracting Standards Board  –  $4,715 in FY 2016 and $4,543 in FY 2017

·         UConn Block Grant – $3.3M in FY 2016 and $3.7M in FY 2017

·         UConn Next Generation Connecticut – $287K in FY 2016 and $305K in FY 2017

·         UConn Health Center Block Grant – $1.86M in FY 2016 and $1.88M in FY 2017

·         UConn Health Center Bioscience – $187.5K in FY 2016 and $180K in FY 2017

·         Community-Technical College System – $2.44M in FY 2017 and $2.46M in FY 2017

PreK-12/PSRP:

·         Reimbursement to Towns for Lost Taxes on State Property  – $$1.25M in FY 2016 and FY 2017

·         Reimbursement to Towns for Lost Taxes on Exempt Property – $1.88M in FY 2016 and FY 2017

·         School Based Health Clinics – $176, 212 in FY 2016 and $178,471 in FY 2017

·         CommPACT Schools – $5,250 in FY 2016 and FY 2017

·         Connecticut Technical HS System – $2.5M in FY 2017 and $2.56M in FY 2017

·         Commissioner’s Network – $192K in FY 2016 and FY 2017

·         K-3 Reading Assessment Pilot – $43K in FY 2016 and $44K in FY 2017

·         Common Core – $88K in FY 2016 and $89K in FY 2017

·         Special Master – $22K in FY 2016 and $15K in FY 2017

·         American School for the Deaf – $149K in FY 2016 and $151K in FY 2017

·         RESCs – $16K in FY 2016 and FY 2017

·         School Transportation – $350K in FY 2016 and FY 2017

·         Adult Education – $315K in FY 2016 and FY 2017

·         ECS Grants (includes charter schools) – $32.3M in FY 2016 and $32.5M in FY 2017

·         Bilingual Education – $44K in FY 2016 and $52K in FY 2017

·         Priority School (Alliance) Districts – $656K in FY 2016 and $672K in FY 2017

·         Excess Cost Special Education – $2.097M in FY 2016 and FY 2017

·         School Readiness – $1.25M in FY 2016 and FY 2017

Make Gov. Malloy Hold Charter Schools Accountable — June 6, 2015

Make Gov. Malloy Hold Charter Schools Accountable

The General Assembly on Tuesday passed a two-year state budget and adjourned their regular session — but our work is not done. Lawmakers will soon go into “special session” to pass the “implementer bills” – hundreds of pages of directions to state agencies about how to execute the new budget.
The legislature on Tuesday took an important step toward establishing greater transparency and more accountability for schools operated by charter management organizations (CMOs) by passing S.B. 1096. The legislation empowers the General Assembly to give final approval to charter school applicants, and requires charter schools and CMOs to:
  • be subject to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act;
  • conduct background checks;
  • adopt anti-nepotism and conflict of interest policies;
  • share best practices with local districts; &
  • submit to random audits.
But attempts to strip the FOI and charter approval process provisions of the bill by Malloy Administration officials were discovered last night during budget implementer discussions.
To contact your legislators, click on this link: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/dont-let-a-rat-gut-charter-school-accountability. Thank them for voting to establish stronger transparency and accountability frameworks for charter schools and urge them to VOTE NO on any budget implementer bills that would dilute S.B. 1096.
Contact Governor Malloy by clicking on this link:https://actionnetwork.org/letters/dont-undermine-charter-school-accountability Ask him to sign S.B. 1096 and refrain from efforts to dilute or weaken its language.
This matter is extremely urgent and it’s critical to take action TODAY to block underhanded attempts to weaken charter accountability.
Time for Bristol Teachers to Stand Up! — June 1, 2015

Time for Bristol Teachers to Stand Up!

Wondering what happens when no one stands up for what’s right? Take a look at two state issues where too few educators opposed bills favored by those outside the profession.

Both Chambers Pass Bill That Bans Out-Of-School Suspension, Expulsion of Young Children

and

Additional $23 Million For Traditional Public Schools ‘Sugarcoats Bitter Pill’

In the first instance, a bill brought about by an advocacy group comprised of litigators were able to ram legislation through when too few educators (teachers, administrators, and BOE) opposed it. In the second example, charter school operators lobbied hard, convincing parents in two urban school areas that the only thing standing in the way of their opening was Governor Malloy to provide the funding. The Governor rolled over and began pushing for legislators to support the charter expansion.

Despite these setbacks, the BFT leadership thanks those Bristol teachers who have contacted legislators this past week to support the union position on various issues.

And for those who didn’t, what are you waiting for? How bad does it have to get before you will act?

State Budget: Tell Governor Malloy To Support Public Schools, Not Charters — May 29, 2015

State Budget: Tell Governor Malloy To Support Public Schools, Not Charters

Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funds have been kept flat since Governor Malloy took office, causing most districts to now be severely underfunded. In fact, resources for traditional neighborhood schools increased by less than 8% since Fiscal Year 2009, while funding for schools operated by charter management organizations (CMOs) has grown by 124% during the same time period.

As AFT CT informed you earlier this week, state budget talks have become heated. The governor’s proposal includes $4.6 million for two new schools operated by CMOs. Legislative leaders’ alternative plan reallocates those resources instead to our underfunded traditional public schools.

Click here now to ask the governor to stop advocating for charters at the expense of traditional public schools. Tell him that preferential treatment for schools that serve only a fraction of students greatly undermines our state’s ability to provide an outstanding public education for all.

Final 2 weeks of Legislative Session — May 18, 2015

Final 2 weeks of Legislative Session

As the legislature and governor begin negotiating a final budget, the AFT CT has organized a “Watch Posse” at the State Capitol to help pass out flyers.They hope to keep the momentum going until the end of session.  Please consider helping out even if it is for a few hours. They are scheduled from 12-5 pm but anytime you are available will be helpful – just let them know before you come up!   Click on the link to sign up for dates and time: http://doodle.com/kd6r27vgt675is3t.

 Here are some of the activities planned for the Watch Posse:

·        Hang out outside the office where Senate and House Leadership and the Governor will be negotiating the budget

·        Pass out AFT provided leaflets to legislators.

·        Hand out stickers to friendly legislators

·        Distribute postcards to legislators that were signed by members (to be done the week of May 25th)

 Please sign up on the dates that you would be able to help out at the State Capitol. Here is the link to sign up:http://doodle.com/kd6r27vgt675is3t

 Teri Merisotis

Member Mobilization Coordinator

AFT CONNECTICUT

35 Marshall Rd.

Rocky Hill, CT 06067

860-257-9782

Tom Foley’s “Market Approach” Vision for Education — September 28, 2014

Tom Foley’s “Market Approach” Vision for Education

Published in the Hartford Courant

Reported by Jenny Wilson

Education became a dominant theme in the governor’s race this week, as Democrats launched an attack against Republican candidate Tom Foley for education proposals they say would slash funding from schools that need it the most.

At the core of Foley’s education plan is in-district school choice and “money follows the child” — two policies that, combined, will result in students leaving low-performing schools and then those schools being stripped of per-pupil funding. Foley has proposed implementing an A-through-F grading system for schools that would allow parents, whom he has described as “the best decision-makers” to choose where they want to send their children.

Malloy’s campaign points to the governor’s investment in low-performing schools and cites figures that show progress in education — like higher test scores and graduation rates, and a narrowing of the achievement gap. At a press conference Wednesday, allies of the governor said Malloy continued to support education, even as federal recovery funding vanished.

Campaigns released dueling television ads about education this week, with Foley promoting his plan and Malloy touting his record. Recent polling shows that despite some bumps this year — both in the areas of charter school management and the rollout of the Common Core State Standards initiative — Malloy still leads in polls on education. A Quinnipiac University survey released earlier this month found that 46 percent of respondents thought Malloy would do a better job on education policy than Foley, compared with 40 percent who said the former U.S. ambassador was better-equipped to handle the issue.

Throughout the campaign, Foley has criticized the governor’s approach to education, and described it at an event earlier this summer as “heavy-handed” and “arrogant,” saying he tried to fix areas where schools were not broken. He defended his education policy proposal at a press conference Wednesday.

“What I’m hoping is … the marketplace starts to exert pressure on schools,” Foley said. “Right away schools are on notice that if I’m governor, I’m going to make sure that this gets passed and implemented — so they should start being better schools right away.”

The Greenwich Republican said he drew on his business experience to formulate his approach to schools, admitting that his policy would result in schools being reconstituted.

“Institutions that aren’t performing lose — that’s kind of the way the private sector works, and it ought to be the way the school works, too.”

Foley said he was not worried about over-migration to high-performing schools because while the grading system was intended to be objective, “a lot of parents won’t agree.” Most parents are inclined to think that the school their children attend is a good school, Foley said.

The Malloy campaign — which has attacked Foley for making business decisions that hurt middle class workers at the Bibb Co. in Georgia, a company Foley owned that later filed for bankruptcy — countered that “you can’t leave our children’s education to the whims of the free market.”

Malloy campaign spokesman Mark Bergman said Foley would “treat public schools and public school teachers just like he treated mills and workers in the private sector — closing them down and putting them out of work when he decides they have failed and are inconvenient for him.”

The Malloy ad released this week praised the governor, saying he “faced the Great Recession as others did not, refusing to cut education and instead taking the hard route, making tough choices so we can invest millions more in our local schools.”

According to the governor’s office, nearly $260 million has been invested in the Alliance district program, which directs investment to Connecticut’s lowest-performing districts. Forty percent of Connecticut students attend school in a low-performing district.

“Tom Foley proposes to slash dollars to schools that need it the most,” said state Rep. Andy Fleischmann, who said the A-through-F grading system would “stigmatize schools and communities while failing to address their challenges.”

Connecticut House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz said Democratic policies have proven results. At the press conference, the lawmakers cited this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress test, also known as NAEP, which showed a narrowed achievement gap in 12th grade.

“All of the work that we’ve been doing is starting to bear fruit, and the achievement gap is starting to close… that’s something to be celebrated, not attacked,” Fleischmann said.

But Foley did not hesitate in attacking that claim. He said NAEP measures achievement in 12 categories, and that, because the achievement gap had narrowed in only some of them, “we’re not doing better and we’re not making progress.”

AFT Connecticut Endorses Malloy for Re-Election — June 13, 2014

AFT Connecticut Endorses Malloy for Re-Election

Rocky Hill – Elected leaders of the 29,000-strong AFT Connecticut last night voted overwhelmingly to support incumbent statewide elected officials with strong records of respecting workers’ rights on the job. The labor federation’s executive committee voted in favor of formal endorsements of candidates for congress and state constitutional offices that will appear on the November 4 General Election ballot.
The candidates include Connecticut’s current delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives; John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes, and Elizabeth Esty. Also endorsed were Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, Attorney General George Jepsen, Treasurer Denise Nappier, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, and Comptroller Kevin Lembo.
“Our executive committee has spoken,” said Melodie Peters, a retired state senator and president of AFT Connecticut. “Last night’s vote is the final step in our democratic process for considering candidates for statewide office. It follows a long-established policy of providing a voice for our diverse, large membership through their local unions,” she said.
Members of the federation’s legislative and political action committee met last week to discuss the incumbents’ records and consider possible endorsements. They forwarded their recommendations to the executive committee, which includes 26 members of AFT Connecticut affiliated unions and reflects a balanced representation of all constituency groups within the federation.
“We have chosen to support candidates who will act to prevent a ‘Wisconsin moment’ here in Connecticut,” said Stephen McKeever, who was a Middletown High School science teacher for 17 years and now serves as AFT Connecticut’s first vice-president. “We need leaders committed to preserving the rights of all workers to collectively bargain and not gutting union members’ benefits to score political points,” he said.
McKeever’s comments refer to remarks that Connecticut Republican Party-endorsed candidate for governor Tom Foley has made to the press. Foley in June, 2013 told The Courant “I keep talking about ‘when is the Wisconsin moment going to come to Connecticut,'” referring to the 2010 takeover of Wisconsin’s statehouse and legislature. That state’s governor and lawmakers in 2011 rammed through legislation stripping public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights and slashed state funding for public education and local services.
“The stakes are too high to make the wrong choice,” said Jean Morningstar, who recently retired after 27 years of service as a public employee at the UConn Health Center in Farmington and is AFT Connecticut’s second vice-president. “We understand that we need a voice at work and a seat at the table with elected officials to advocate for ourselves, our families, and our communities,” she said.

Governor Dan Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman Receive Support of 29,000-Member Union for Respecting Workers’ Rights

 Hartford, CT – Today, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Connecticut announced its endorsement of Governor Dan Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman for re-election.

 “AFT’s support is a testament to the progress we are making together in education, health care and public services,” said Governor Dan Malloy. “I firmly believe that teachers, health care professionals, and all workers should have the right to collectively bargain — for good wages and benefits, due process and a voice at work. From the picket lines to the Capitol, we’ve stood together to protect workers’ rights and that won’t change. We won’t let Connecticut go down the dangerous path that GOP governors are leading states like Wisconsin down. I want to thank AFT for their support and for their hard work, day in and day out, to move Connecticut forward.”

 “I am grateful to be working with AFT as we protect Connecticut’s working families. Honoring and supporting the voice of organized labor is a big part of how we continue to empower our working families, build our economy and provide our children with the best education possible,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “We have more work to do, but we will continue to support our educators, health care professionals, public service employees, and all Connecticut workers as we continue our state’s progress. I am honored and thankful for AFT Connecticut’s endorsement.”