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Latest on the State Budget

Hartford Capitol SummerThroughout the state budget process, CEA members have been strong advocates. In just the last three days, more than 4,000 emails were sent by CEA members to their representatives and state senators. Here’s what happened at the Capitol Friday and Saturday:

Democrats were expected to pass their budget.

In the State Senate three Democrats—Paul Doyle, Gayle Slossberg, and Joan Hartley—all voted for the Republican budget. As a result, the Republican budget proposal passed by a vote of 21 to 15.

In the House, six Democrats voted with the Republicans to adopt the Republican budget as the amended budget—Pat Boyd, John Hampton, Lonnie Reed, Kim Rose, Danny Rovero, and Cristin McCarthy Vahey (McCarthy Vahey, later switched and voted against it). It passed 77 to 73. The governor has said that he will veto the budget.

A bi-partisan budget—different than the one passed yesterday—could be a good solution for Connecticut, but only if it does not attack public education, students, teachers, and essential collective bargaining rights that protect employees.

What does the Republican budget do as to collective bargaining and education?

It imposes a 2% increase in teacher pension contributions, which would cost the average teacher $1,500 per year. This unprecedented tax on teachers does not go into the teacher pension fund to support teacher retirement, but instead goes into the state’s general fund.

It does not impose a cost shift of teacher retirement responsibilities onto towns.

It ends collective bargaining for state employee pensions, imposes changes in their pensions after 2027 (when the current labor agreement expires), and starts counting those savings in the proposed biennial budget. For example, the budget banks $270 million in savings in the next two years based on savings that are projected to occur after 2027. And that assumes that ending collective bargaining as to state employee pensions withstands a legal challenge.

It allows towns to override arbitration decisions with a 2/3rds vote of the local legislative bodies (i.e., two out of three selectman, or six out of nine city councilors).

It eliminates the Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) for municipal education support.

It allows towns to reopen collective bargaining agreements if education aid is reduced by 10% or more.

It requires that 15% of a town’s budget reserve shall not be considered toward a town’s ability to pay.

It allows schools and towns to use adult or child volunteers for town services regardless of collective bargaining agreements.

It contains numerous provisions that transfer power from the board of education to the board of finance or mayor/board of selectmen. For example, the town (not the board of education) must authorize leases of school equipment, computers, portable classrooms, etc.; the town must approve hiring new school positions not specifically enumerated in the budget, etc.

ECS: The Republican budget restores most of Governor Malloy’s proposed ECS cuts, but cuts some large districts. Bridgeport loses $4 million, East Hartford loses $4 million, New Haven loses $3 million, and West Hartford loses $1 million.

The Republican budget also eliminates the Clean Elections Program, imposes additional labor savings while also incorporating the $1.5 billion state employee concession package negotiated by Governor Malloy, adopts the Hospital Tax expansion proposed by Malloy (where the state receives more federal reimbursement), and proposes major cuts in higher education.

These are just some of many details that stretch over 700 pages.

Again, the governor says he will veto the Republican budget, which will send the process back to the beginning, with increased leverage for Republican leadership.

We will send out additional updates as we learn more.

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