What CEA did for you this year:
At the end of the session, we restored most of the Education Cost Sharing (ECS – the state’s primary education grant to cities & towns) cuts, stopped the $400 million shift of retirement costs to local towns, defeated the collective bargaining attacks, and blocked the 2% teacher tax that went to the General Fund in the Republican budget.
We are not happy with the 1% increase that goes to the Teacher’s Retirement Fund, but our staff and members succeeded in defeating almost all of the major attacks on our schools and members.
Your membership funding made this possible.
The year began with numerous bills proposed by legislators who wanted to eliminate collective bargaining-they wanted to take away our ability to negotiate for health insurance, working conditions, and some wanted to even limit negotiations for salary-as has occurred in Wisconsin. We were able to defeat all of those proposals.
The budget battle began with Gov. Malloy proposing to shift $400 million of teacher retirement costs to local towns, which would have resulted in increased local taxes, cuts in school budgets, or both, and would have made teacher contract negotiations very difficult-now and in the future. We fought hard against that proposal for many months-and defeated it.
The governor’s budget and most other budget proposals called for deep cuts in ECS dollars for our schools. Malloy’s executive order imposed $557 million in devastating ECS cuts. We fought against the cuts and his executive order-including filing a lawsuit-CEA v. Dannel P. Malloy-and ultimately helped ensure that his order was voided with the passage of the final bipartisan budget that restored most of the ECS cuts.
The Republican budget that passed earlier in the session included a 2%-of-salary increase in teacher contributions to the teacher retirement fund (TRF), but the money was targeted for the General Fund, not the TRF. This made it the equivalent of a pure tax increase. We helped lead and mobilize thousands of teachers who sent many thousands of emails to legislators; we also met with legislative leadership numerous times to convey our strong opposition. Gov. Malloy vetoed that budget.
In the final budget that became law, legislators cut the teacher contribution in half to 1%, and deposited the revenue into the TRF, not the General Fund. We still opposed it and thousands of our members again contacted legislators, but it was included in the final package that included billions of dollars in overall cuts in order to close the deficit, including the $1.4 billion in concessions by state employees.
We have researched whether a lawsuit against the 1% increase would be successful; the Treasurer’s Office indicated that when the increase was slated to be deposited in the General Fund, there may have been a basis to challenge the increase. When the increased contribution was ultimately sent to the TRF, however, that cause of action was eliminated.
We have not finished with our legal review and are preparing for another legislative session where there will likely be more attacks on collective bargaining and public education. What needs to be underscored is that CEA-and that means all staff and the many members who responded to our call to get involved-fought fiercely from last January until this past October against a variety of assaults on public education, collective bargaining and teachers.
Many of our members sent literally tens of thousands of emails to legislators and to legislative leadership in both major parties. We made phone calls, lobbied their offices, and visited personally with them.
Without CEA, teachers might have lost all of these battles.