Teacher’s union sues over Mal­loy bud­get ex­ec­u­tive or­der

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Con­ner Lam­beck Staff writer Ken Dixon contributed to this re­port

HART­FORD — The state’s largest teacher’s union filed a law­suit Wednesday, in an at­tempt to stop Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy’s bud­get­ing by ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

The Con­necti­cut Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, which an­nounced last month its in­tent to sue the state, said that in the ab­sence of a state bud­get, Mal­loy does not have the author­ity to re­duce the state’s ed­u­ca­tion grant.

Mal­loy’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der cuts $557 mil­lion in ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing from 139 cities and towns.

CEA waited un­til sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties af­fected by the or­der, joined the cause. Tor­ring­ton, Plain­field, and Brook­lyn are part of the ini­tial fil­ing. The union said it has re­ceived call from more than a dozen oth­ers want­ing to join.

“This is harm that is rolling out im­me­di­ately as we speak,” Don Wil­liams, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the union said at a Wednesday af­ter­noon press con­fer­ence on the steps of state Su­pe­rior Court in Hart­ford.

Wil­liams and oth­ers called the gover­nor’s cuts cat­a­strophic.

“This is going back­wards,” Tony Detrio, a for­mer Nor­walk prin­ci­pal and now chair­man of the Con­necti­cut As­so­ci­a­tion of School Ad­min­is­tra­tors, said.

Detrio pre­dicted the cuts will lead to heart break­ing de­ci­sions, teacher lay­offs, and in some com­mu­ni­ties, the re­turn to half day kin­der­garten.

“Con­necti­cut de­serves a re­spon­si­ble bud­get that does not harm school chil­dren,” Wil­liams said.

The state is three months into the new fis­cal year with no bud­get as law­mak­ers wres­tle over how to deal with a $5 bil­lion deficit in a way that does the least amount of harm.

Last week, the Leg­is­la­ture failed to act on Mal­loy’s veto of a Repub­li­can plan.

“First of all I think CEA is act­ing on a pre­ma­ture ba­sis,” Mal­loy said Wednesday speak­ing to re­porters at the Capi­tol. “Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances those checks don’t go out un­til the end of Oc­to­ber. Se­con­dar­ily, they’ll have to han­dle the is­sue of the fact that we have a lot less money to spend with­out a bud­get than we do with a bud­get. Their stronger ar­gu­ment might be that we can’t make any pay­ments to com­mu­ni­ties in the ab­sence of a bud­get. That’s one I would be afraid of … They would be hard-pressed to say they have (le­gal) stand­ing any time be­fore the checks would oth­er­wise go out.”

Usu­ally one quar­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Cost Shar­ing pay­ments go to towns and cities at the end of Oc­to­ber. The checks went out early to com­mu­ni­ties still get­ting them.

Some 85 towns re­ceived noth­ing, un­der Mal­loy’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der. Among the ze­roed out com­mu­ni­ties are Fair­field, Mil­ford, Mon­roe, Shel­ton and Trum­bull. An­other 54 get less than last year.

Tor­ring­ton is used to get­ting $8 mil­lion in its first quar­ter. In­stead it got $1.2 mil­lion, a Tor­ring­ton teacher at the news con­fer­ence said.

The state’s 30 need­i­est dis­tricts — in­clud­ing An­so­nia, Bridge­port, Dan­bury, Derby, Nor­walk, New Haven and Stam­ford — are re­ceiv­ing flat fund­ing com­pared to last year.

Wil­liams, a for­mer leg­is­la­tor, said the union felt it had no choice to take ev­ery step pos­si­ble to pro­tect stu­dents.

“We have a strong le­gal case to block these cuts,” Wil­liams said.

The union points out that even Con­necti­cut At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ge­orge Jepsen ques­tioned the le­gal­ity of the gover­nor's ex­ec­u­tive or­der in a re­cent le­gal opin­ion.

"We can't sit by and watch our pub­lic schools dis­man­tled.” CEA Pres­i­dent Sheila Co­hen, added. "This in­junc­tion is the first step to­ward en­sur­ing that our state lives up to its com­mit­ment and con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions to ad­e­quately fund pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion."

It is un­clear how quickly the court will act on the mat­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.