Although it is still early in the legislative session, my colleagues and I inHartfordhave been very busy tackling the issues facing our State and community this year.
One of the most publicized matters this session is the Governor’s education bill (Senate Bill 24), which attempts to reform many aspects of the State’s educational system, including teacher tenure, early childhood education, teacher evaluations, school funding and small district regionalization.
The Education Committee hosted two days of public hearings where they took in many hours of testimony on the subject from teachers, administrators, parents, students and educational organizations, who all weighed in with both praise and criticism.
Earlier in February, I hosted a “Community Conversation on the Governor’s Education Reform Initiatives” at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, and I was pleased to be joined by over 30 teachers, parents, and local education activists. This was a great opportunity to hear input from several communities on how the different proposals in the bill will affect the different school districts
As the Ranking Member on the Legislature’s Education Committee, I will be able to take a front seat in addressing issues with the education system. Making sure our state education dollars are spent effectively will yield better results forConnecticutstudents. There is no question that everyone is ready and willing to tackle the challenge of closing the achievement gap.
An educated workforce is the backbone of every strong economy and I look forward to a continued dialogue about the degree to which these education reforms will accomplish our common goal of better preparing our children for the competitive job market.
And finally, the state budget and economy are of the utmost importance during this “short” session, as the State Constitution requires the legislature to focus on budgetary, revenue and financial matters on even-numbered years.
We are currently predicted to end the year with a $236 million deficit – putting our state budget in a perilous position. The Treasurer reports that the state’s available cash on hand reached record low this year of $67 million, which is enough to keep the lights on for only a few days.
Additionally, while the current adopted budget includes $260 million in spending increases, the Governor has proposed another $329 million increases, bringing us to a total increase of over a half billion dollars between this year and next, placing us at a mere $6 million under the spending cap next year.
Clearly there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get our fiscal house in order, and I am continuing my daily efforts to do that in a responsible manner.
As always, I welcome your input on these and all issues coming before the legislature. Please contact me with your thoughts and questions by calling 800-842-1423 or emailing me at Marilyn.Giuliano@housegop.ct.gov.