Statement From CEA President Sheila Cohen on Passage of Bipartisan State Budget
CEA’s 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. Under this budget, education funding for the state’s poorest districts would not be cut, and the remaining 139 school districts would lose five percent of funding. Next year, some of the funding is restored under an updated distribution formula. Click here to see how your district fares under this budget.
While we do not agree with everything in the budget, we do appreciate the effort of legislators to protect education funding for our students and schools and to solve the budget impasse. This agreement restores much-needed funding to our school districts, preventing teacher layoffs as well as cuts to programs and resources that would have led to larger class sizes and fewer opportunities for our students.
Thank you to the many thousands of you who contacted your legislators. Many of you received responses from your legislators telling you that CEA was misleading you. Armed with the facts, you fought back and set the record straight. You urged them to invest in public education—and together our 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 without a budget 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. We all 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.
Thank you for your advocacy. We made a difference, and we will continue to be stronger together.