Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed budget gives a tax break to the rich.
Here’s what it is:
He advocates extending the 529 college savings plans, called CHET (Connecticut Higher Education Trust), to savings plans that can be used for K-12 education as well as college. As reported in the well-researched and comprehensive article in The CT Mirror by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas on Jan. 16, the state currently allows parents to avoid paying state income taxes each year on up to $10,000 that they put into a college savings account. In addition, they don’t have to pay taxes on the earned income when the money is withdrawn to pay for college.
In 2011, a Board of Regents for Public Higher Education (BOR) was created to supposedly save money through centralization of functions and to assure smooth student transition from community colleges to universities. But students were deceived about the transfer process as smooth transfers can be achieved without this centralized boondoggle. Since 2011, after five presidents, all there is to show is nearly quarter billion taxpayer dollars wasted on a bloated central bureaucracy with 150 employees at an annual cost of $35 million, and several failed proposals to merge the community colleges and the state universities with reassuring names such as Transform 2020, Go Back to Get Ahead, and the current plan, Students First.
The state’s Board of Regents Dec. 14 will vote on a restructuring recommendation by Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian to fold the state’s 12 community colleges into one. The recommendation, which has been opposed by the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges and other organizations, purports to save some $28 million by eliminating duplication of services within the system … while, as a BOR slogan says, putting “Students First.” In reality, the plan places finances first and students as also-rans. For this reason, we at the 4Cs encourage BOR members to reject the recommended proposal.
It appears the state legislature has preserved the largest single source of state support to municipalities, Education Cost Sharing Grants. There are, however, some devilish details that should be noted. First, because of cuts and authorized holdbacks, all but 30 Alliance towns begin 2018 with 12.95 percent less than 2017.
Between shrinking revenues from taxes, the continued growth of fixed costs (including long-term pension and debt obligations), and declining bond ratings, Connecticut faces a multitude of fiscal challenges that could pose problems to the state’s financial and economic health for decades if not addressed. However, to properly address these challenges we must first understand them and know what problems our state must solve. This starts with understanding the data. …[This is] what led us to develop, and officially launch this week, a new, interactive website (www.ctstatefinance.org) devoted to providing an in-depth, yet easy-to-understand, look into many of the fiscal challenges that Connecticut faces.
When Connecticut finally passed a budget late last month, after the longest impasse in our state’s history, many people were relieved. To be sure, we need a budget to keep our government and economy up and running. But the new budget does little to give our state’s families the quality education and school choices they deserve.
At this time of fiscal hardship in the state, districts are looking for ways to save money, such as by closing schools, sharing services and, sometimes, consolidating districts. As they are looking for more efficiency with at least continued effectiveness in carrying out their mission, they should keep an eye on their district’s enrollment projections.
On Thursday, Sept. 28, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments in a landmark education case, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, (“CCJEF”). It is no hyperbole to say that CCJEF has the potential to be the Connecticut equivalent of Brown v. Board of Education. As in Brown, the CCJEF trial court found the disparities in Connecticut’s public education system to be too vast to ignore. In Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and other urban centers across the state, fewer than one in three children is on track to be college and career ready, “nearly 1 in 3 students … can’t read even at basic levels,” and many high-school graduates are “functionally illiterate.”
Yet there is no question Connecticut’s public schools can do better
As our students return to school, they know they’re beginning a year of new challenges, new ideas, and new people. Behind the scenes, however, things look a little different. Because state legislators still haven’t fixed Connecticut’s broken public school funding system, the staff at Park City Prep is going into the new school year prepared to scrape by with insufficient resources.
TYhe House Democrats’ proposed school funding plan is not a legitimate attempt at a logical or responsible school funding formula. It falls far short of creating the “rational, substantial and verifiable” school finance system that Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher called for in his September 2016 ruling in CCJEF v. Rell.
Whether viewed through the lenses of wealth, District Reference Groups, or student achievement, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s recently announced distribution of Education Cost Sharing grant money has obvious flaws and inconsistencies that defy logic and lead one to the conclusion that this is just an extension of the arbitrary and capricious administration of the program that has plagued it in the past.
On July 19, the unelected, governor-appointed Connecticut State Board of Education approved 504 additional seats in state charter schools for next year, with 154 of those seats going to Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport. Go figure: Connecticut is in a budget crisis with every expense being monitored, yet new charter school seats, which cost the state $11,000 each, are being initiated. The cost will be more than $5.5 million.