When the two largest teachers unions in the state are bankrolling more than a third of the members on the state legislature’s Appropriations Committee it’s no wonder that kids lose out.
This is the sad reality in Connecticut, where, on Monday, the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee advanced a biennial budget plan that would strip $20.9 million originally earmarked for charter schools.
This cut means that despite the fact that 4,000 Connecticut children are on charter school waiting lists, hundreds of new charter seats previously approved by the state will be defunded.
Included in these cuts in the funding for Capital Prep Harbor Schools in Bridgeport and Stamford School of Excellence in Stamford – schools that hundreds of parents fought for over the past year.
So, how much did this power play cost the unions?
The answer is $15,000— or at least that’s the total amount of money in campaign contributions both unions and their lobbyists handed over to 22 of the 33 Appropriations Committee members who voted in support of gutting funding for charters, according to data collected by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
Included in that group are both co-chairs of the Appropriations Committee Senator Beth Bye and Rep. Toni Walker, whose top individual donors include CEA lobbyist Vincent Loffredo and AFT lobbyist Jennifer Berigan.
This is of course doesn’t count the more than $40,000 the unions gave to state Democratic campaign committees and associated PACs this year alone, nor the almost $150,000 in independent expenditures that were instrumental in getting Rep. Andre Baker – who also voted ‘yay’ on this budget – elected to the Bridgeport Board of Education.
In other words: Who cares that thousands of parents rallied in support of opening up access to high-quality choices for the tens of thousands of Connecticut children stuck in low-performing schools? Clearly not Appropriations Committee members. Not when there is union money to be had.
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