Sen. Kissel Pledges Continued Opposition to Unfunded Mandates [Hartford Courant]

January 23, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant

Enfield School Board Plea To Legislators: No More Unfunded Mandates

By AMANDA FALCONE, [email protected]
The Hartford Courant
10:12 p.m. EST, January 22, 2013

ENFIELD —— School board members had a familiar complaint to pass along to their state legislators list Tuesday night: unfunded mandates.

Several board members urged state Sen. John Kissel, a Republican, and Reps. David Kiner and David Alexander, both Democrats, not to vote for bills that are unsupported by state funding. They also asked the lawmakers to be lenient when initiatives aren’t fully funded.

“If you can’t fully fund the mandates, cut us some slack,” said board member Tom Sirard.

Kiner asked the board to compile a list of unfunded mandates and send it to them, and school administrators said they would do so.

Board member Joyce Hall offered one specific example: Implementing Common Core standards that she said means the school system has to redo its entire curriculum. There’s no funding for that, and it is labor-intensive, she said.

All three legislators said they understood the board’s concerns. Kissel reminded board members that he’s taken a stand — like many of his Republican colleagues — on issues that are considered unfunded mandates, citing his vote against Race to the Top legislation as an example.

The school board also expressed concern maintaining the state’s Education Cost Sharing grants, and board members asked several questions about school security.

Kissel, who sits on a newly formed legislative committee charged with preventing school violence and addressing school safety, said the legislature is moving quickly to deal with issues that have surfaced since the December 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown. Kissel said he believes school systems should decide what works best for them.

“I don’t believe in one size fits all,” he said, adding that it would be unfair to pass mandates to tighten school security if the state doesn’t pay for it. “If we are going to do good things, we have to put our money where our mouth is.”

The state is facing projected budget deficits for the next two fiscal years.

Kissel said the school safety committee is hoping to get a bill that addresses school security passed in February, but he said he thinks it might be better if the committee waited until the police report about the Newtown shooting is made public in March, he said.

Kissel, Kiner and Alexander promised to work together for Enfield despite any political differences.

“I think we are going to work as a good team,” Alexander said.

Kiner told the school board that the legislative team would be willing to come back to update the board on legislative issues. At that time, specific proposals can be discussed, he said.

“We’re going to take you up on that offer,” responded board Chairman Tim Neville.