MALLOY’S BOOST IN AID FOR CITY SCHOOLS CAN ONLY HELP
Cash-strapped New Britain got some good news in Governor Malloy’s proposal to increase the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) funding for school districts in distress last week.
The second year adjustment in the Governor’s biennial budget increases ECS aid by $2.65 million in New Britain. State Senator Terry Gerratana (D-6) and other members of New Britain’s Democratic legislative delegation praised the increase—the fifth-largest proposed dollar hike of any municipality in Connecticut.
If adopted New Britain will receive $76.58 million for local education, an additional$245 per pupil.
Last year, Malloy addressed the state’s deficit-ridden finances through a combination of labor concessions and attrition, program cuts and tax increases to close an estimated $2 billion gap. To the relief of municipalities, local education aid remained the same without cuts.
“I strongly endorse the governor’s position that every child in Connecticut deserves access to a quality public education, no matter where they live. That has not always been the case in some of Connecticut’s poorer cities and towns,” Sen. Gerratana said. “It is folly to think that money doesn’t play a key role in equalizing some of that achievement gap. So I welcome the governor’s proposed additional ECS funding, and I welcome his concurrent demand that these funds be accounted for as part of an overall educational reform process.”
“The governor and the New Britain state delegation made a commitment to better fund education, especially in underperforming urban districts like New Britain,” state Rep. Rick Lopes said. “Increasing the education performance in New Britain is the most important thing we can do as legislators.”
“While I am pleased to see the state stepping in and doing its part to support and promote education, we still have a lot of work to do to bring more state resources to New Britain’s education system,” state Rep. Robert Sanchez said. “I am committed to keep working until we find a balance that will help us achieve our educational goals. Municipalities struggle with the budgetary impact of funding education and the influence it has on mill rates imposed on property owners. This proposal eases some of that burden while putting in place beneficial educational reforms that we welcome with open arms.”
Approximately 63% of New Britain’s $118,000,000 budget is covered by state aid. The Board of Education has proposed total education spending of $131,000,000 for the fiscal year starting July 1 to maintain the current level of programs and services, according to school officials.
The city’s share of education support will be determined in the coming weeks at the Board of Finance and Taxation and the Common Council. The task of addressing the city’s educational needs is made more difficult this year by a “structural deficit” in the municipal budget of at least $9 million that was identified by Mayor O’Brien soon after he took office. A subsequent audit has confirmed the size of the deficit.
DEMS TO MEET THURSDAY AT CITY HALL
The Democratic Town Committee will meet at New Britain City Hall on Thursday, February 16th, at 7:30 p.m., the last meeting of the current term.
The meeting will be held in Room 504 of City Hall, 27 West Main Street.
In March, the Town Committee Organizational Meeting for the 2012-2014 term will be held Thursday, March 8th. The window for selecting Delegates to State and District Conventions is March 27 to April 3, 2012
AT THE CAPITOL: DONOVAN CALLS FOR A RAISE IN THE MINIMUM WAGE
At a time of falling incomes for the working poor, House Speaker Chris Donovan (D-Meriden) last week called for an increase in Connecticut’s minimum wage and the indexing of wage rates “to keep pace with the rising cost of living and give employers predictability on their labor costs.”
The proposal calls for Connecticut’s current minimum wage of $8.25 per hour to be raised to $9.00 per hour this year, $9.75 per hour next year and then to be indexed in the years following.
“More families than ever are relying on low-wage and minimum wage jobs to make ends meet,” Speaker Donovan said. “That leaves them struggling. While most job losses in the recession hit higher wage sectors like construction, manufacturing and finance hard, much of the new job growth has been concentrated disproportionately in low-wage industries.”
He added, “Raising the minimum wage now is good for Connecticut workers and good for our economy. Doing so can stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending, which in turn helps to create jobs at local businesses needed to meet increased demand.”
“Increasing the minimum wage is vital to Connecticut workers and their families, and in particular woman and people of color,” said Lori Pelletier, secretary-treasurer of the CT AFL-CIO. “Increasing the minimum wage puts more money into families’ pockets and in turn those families spend it in the Connecticut economy. Low income families have been hit hard by the economic downturn of the past three years and now is the time to provide those families with an increase in their wages.”
Connecticut, with a minimum higher than the federal rate, last raised its minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $8.25 per hour in January 2010. The indexing proposal would automatically adjust the minimum wage annually to keep pace with the rising cost of living. States that currently index their minimum wages so that they are automatically adjusted each year are: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Vermont and Washington.
The federal minimum wage would be $10.40 per hour if it had been indexed since its inception based on cost of living. The last time the federal government raised the minimum wage was July 2009 from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour.
A THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK TO WORKING FAMILIES’ JON GREEN
CT Working Families Party (WFP)Director Jon Green, who helped launch the union-based political organization a decade ago, has announced he will be moving on to help organize WFP chapters in other states.
“I’m optimistic for the future of Working Families, both in Connecticut and around the nation, as long as people are hungry to make sure our elected leaders are accountable to the needs of the 99%,” Green said in a letter on Sunday. “I think most of you would agree that our efforts have genuinely made a difference; not as much as I hoped, but more than I feared. We’ve made working people’s lives a little bit better and our democracy a little bit stronger.”
In New Britain, Working Families has supported Democratic nominees for municipal and state offices over the last decade, including in 2011 Mayor Tim O’Brien and several candidates for City Council.
New Britain Democrats extend thanks and best wishes to Green in his continuing efforts to promote the interests of coalition politics that stand up for working families.
“The US Bishops have launched an unprecedented public relations campaign of fear and awe under the guise of a fight over religious liberty. They have brought divisive politics, replete with inflammatory and misleading rhetoric, into our parishes and our worship at Mass, the most important and sacred time in a Catholic’s life. Rather than passionately preaching about the crisis of poverty in our nation and the ‘scandal of glaring inequalities’, the bishops have been drawn to a selective focus on the straw man argument of religious liberty. The breadth and depth of their selective furor raises legitimate questions about the moral outrage they express that we have not witnessed before – why in this way, at this time?”
Steve Krueger, National Director of Catholic Democrats February 9, 2012
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