Budgets · In the State

Is Another Lawsuit The Answer? Teachers Union Threatens To File Injunction Against State Over Budget

On Monday, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the state largest teachers union, announced that they’re planning to file an injunction against the state, attempting to fight back against Gov. Dannel Malloy’s executive order budget, which cuts $557 million from education spending.

Now the question is, will filing an injunction prevent cuts? Two towns, Torrington and Brooklyn, seemed to be convinced. They have joined the union in their attempt to stop cuts, which have technically already taken effect as of October 1st.

Both towns are among municipalities 139 Connecticut cities and towns that lose either part or all their state Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant, which is the main grant that funds district operational costs — here’s an excerpt from their release:

“The Connecticut Education Association today announced it is seeking an injunction to prevent Governor Malloy from implementing his executive order and cutting $557 million in education funding to cities and towns. If allowed to proceed, these cuts would leave school budgets across the state out of balance. This would severely jeopardize school districts’ ability to provide quality education, thereby shortchanging Connecticut students’ futures.”

Will this work?

Will suing the state ensure that school districts are equitably funded? The answer is: Maybe and probably not.

The governor’s executive order isn’t ideal. It cuts funding completely from over 85 cities and towns, but it also makes sure that low performing schools are at least flat-funded.  Malloy’s also stuck in a tough position. Unlike members of the state legislature, the governor can’t raise revenue or additional taxes. His executive order is bound by state statute. 

The truth is, preventing cuts to the ECS grant is only a small part of the problem. The cuts are devastating, but the money would have to come from somewhere — whether that’s hospitals or municipal cutback…  or even other education grants, like for example special education funding? Remember the governor can’t raise additional money through taxes.

So, without a real budget, this injunction could — and probably will — negatively affect the state’s poorer districts; those most vulnerable to cuts in municipal aid or other grants.

Hopefully, no injunction will be needed, but considering that we are 4 months into a budget stalemate, who knows?

What do you think?

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