Letter: Our Children Deserve Better

August 22, 2017

By Sen. Len Fasano

Letter as it appeared in Hearst Papers

The Hearst editorial board has rightly called for a state budget that includes a new, fair education funding formula (Editorial: “Make fixing education formula a priority,” June 9, 2017) and that does not raise taxes to balance the budget (“Democrats, put aside politics for sake of a budget,” July 7, 2017).

Unfortunately, they also never spoke out against passing a labor deal that has made it significantly more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the above goals and has moved our state further away from a budget than we were before.

An editorial from this paper said that if the governor’s labor deal was not passed, it would create chaos (Editorial: “Connecticut deals with labor, but tough work remains,” Aug. 1, 2017).

But the opposite was true. Democrats approved a labor deal that was bad for the state in the long term without even knowing or having a plan to balance the budget under the provisions of the deal in the short term.

Now the state’s hands are tied, and chaos is rampant throughout our towns, cities and schools.

But instead of acknowledging this reality, a recent editorial ignored the details of why our state budget is truly at an impasse and worse off now that the governor’s labor deal is passed (“Education aid a game with no winners,” Aug. 17.)

Instead, blame was laid on the legislature as a whole, a generalization that simultaneously criticizes Republicans who have offered solutions, including multiple complete budgets, and created a shield for Democrats who have yet to do their jobs and offer any budget proposal that could be voted on.

If we want a budget, and we want a new education funding formula, we have to put the pressure on those who have held up the process, not on those who have offered solutions time and time again.

We need to continue calling out Democrats — as this paper has done in the past (“Democrats, put aside politics for sake of a budget,” July 7.) — who have failed to produce a complete budget, who have blocked votes on other budgets, who have yet to offer an education funding formula, and who have actually proposed a $10 million reduction to education funding.

We need to urge them to actually consider the formula crafted by Senate Republicans that increases education funding over time and redistributes funding by weighing factors such as school enrollment, poverty, wealth, and number of English language learners so the state can better address its achievement gap, meet all the requirements laid out by a recent court ruling, and do more for students most in need.

And if education for all students is a priority, no one should be applauding the governor’s efforts, as his complete budget would decimate education funding for the majority of municipalities and put more burdens on all cities and towns that would without a doubt result in significant property tax increases.

Sure, towns would know what to expect under the governor’s plan: drastic and painful cuts and more chaos. Our children deserve better.

Senator Len Fasano, R-North Haven, Senate Republican President Pro Tempore.