State Budget

As you may have heard, the 2018 legislative session ended at midnight. Democrats and Republicans were able to put forth a bipartisan $20.86 billion budget that was approved and is now on the Governor’s desk. The Senate passed the budget 36-0 and the House passed it 142-8.

Community Colleges

The Community Colleges are facing a $6 million cut to its block grant. The System was able to secure $16 million for the fringe benefits of its employees (of $22 million needed), but we do not know the effect yet of the $6 million cut on overall system operations. More information will be known in the days ahead.
There was some momentum on the part of the Higher Education Committee to restrict the Board of Regents rights to close colleges. (See next article on Consolidation for more information).
Collective Bargaining
The package does not include several major changes sought by Republicans to collective bargaining rules regarding state and municipal employees. But as stated below, they plan to raise these proposals again.
The collective bargaining rules sought “included:
  • Ending collective bargaining for retirement benefits after the current contract expires in mid-2027, leaving all of these matters to be resolved solely by the legislature.
  • Removing overtime from pension calculations.
  • Suspending cost-of-living adjustments to pensions for retirees who become vested after mid-2027 until the system holds enough assets to cover 80 percent of pension obligations. The funded ratio currently stands at less than 40 percent.
“We’re not going to let that be the deal-breaker” Fasano said during a press conference a few hours before the Senate’s budget debate. But he added that Republicans still feel strongly about these issues and expect to raise them again in future years” (CT Mirror).

May 10th, 2018

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Connecticut Voices for Children issued a policy brief on the state’s spending cap.
“The spending cap has become a central issue in the current bipartisan budget negotiations. While a spending cap can be vital for preventing runaway spending, an overly restrictive cap would limit the strategic investments necessary for long-term prosperity. Unfortunately, proposed changes to the spending cap would have that effect, limiting the state’s ability to meet vital needs today or key priorities tomorrow.”
Further, the organization urges everyone “to contact legislative leadership today and call for a spending cap driven by a commitment to meeting vital needs, strengthening our cities and towns, and spurring equitable economic growth.”
You can find your legislators and their contact information here.
Read more about these proposed changes in our new policy brief at ctvoices.org/spendingcap.

October 12th, 2017

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On Wednesday, September 27, CSU faculty, staff, and students will hold a a press conference on the recent budget proposal that guts public higher education funding. The proposal would cut approximately $93 million from CSCU and eliminate the Robert Willis Scholarship Fund. Both of these actions could make the cost of higher education too great for students.
The press conference will be held at the Legislative Office Building, Room 1A, 300 Capitol Ave., Hartford at 11am. Following the press conference, faculty in full academic regalia will deliver “report cards” to legislators. Read more here.
The 4Cs is urging our members to take action. Attend the press conference and/or protest. Write op-eds. Contact your legislators (here)
The Community Colleges are being targeted. Take this recent quote:
State Rep. Terrie Wood, R-Norwalk, State Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, and State Rep. Fred Wilms, R-Norwalk, claimed NCC would not see any impact from the budget cuts to community colleges…
One of the reasons community colleges were cut, and there was a decision most definitely, is there are four community colleges within 12 miles of Hartford,” Wood said. “We are asking one of those to be closed…  (article here)
We know it is short notice, but we need members to attend tomorrow and many others to support tomorrow’s action by writing letters and contacting legislators.
Let us know if you’ll be joining us tomorrow!

September 26th, 2017

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The budget passed by the House and Senate over the weekend hurts our students and our colleges. In President Ojakian’s words, “Early Saturday morning the Connecticut General Assembly passed a budget that intends to cut approximately $93M from the CSCU system over the next two years. Funding for developmental education is completely eliminated, while the Roberta Willis scholarship fund is phased out…This amounts to an unprecedented denial of access and support to public higher education students in Connecticut.” Read the full statement here.
The budget would also dismantle our fundamental collective bargaining rights by:

  • Removing funding for cost-of-living increases for retired state employees;
  • Unilaterally changing how pensions are calculated– even for years already worked, and for all years through 2027;
  • And increasing pension contributions for ALL state employees to 7%.
If this budget were passed into law, SEBAC would be forced to litigate and defend our contractual and contract rights.
The Governor has pledged to veto the budget, but the Yankee Institute is encouraging people to contact the Governor and ask him to sign the budget.
We are asking you to do two things:
  1. Please contact your legislators to demand restoration of funding to the Community Colleges and the Willis Scholarship. You can locate your legislators and view our template email by visiting this link.
  2. Please email Governor Malloy to ask him to stand by his pledge to veto this budget and to restore funding for CSCU and the Willis Scholarship in the budget compromise. You can email him here.

We will also be joining with other higher education unions in an action at the Appropriations Committee on Friday afternoon between 1-3pm. The details are still being worked out, but if you are interested in learning more, please email Ellen and she will keep you informed.

September 19th, 2017

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It’s mid-September and Connecticut is still without a state budget agreement. However, we may see a budget deal today.
The Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 11:30 am, followed by a caucus, to consider revenue options. According to many news outlets, they are considering tax hikes on hospitals, cigarettes and tobacco products, and possibly cell phones (www.ctmirror.org).

As the budget is still being written, we have no way of knowing whether we support or oppose it yet. However, it is possible that the House could take up the budget later this evening.

Please check your personal email accounts later today. As we receive more information about the budget, we may be asking you to take action by calling or writing your legislators. 

September 15th, 2017

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Wednesday, the Governor presented his proposed FY 2018-19 state budget.
  • It contains a 4% cut to the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU).
  • It assumes labor savings totaling $700 million in FY 2018 and $867.6 million in FY 2019. (These are expected savings in healthcare and pension benefits that HAVE NOT been agreed to by SEBAC.)
  • It states that if labor savings are not achieved, it assumes the savings in layoffs, which “equates to approximately 4,200 full-time positions and associated fringe benefits,” including 430 positions at CSCU (Community Colleges, Connecticut State University, Charter Oak State College, and the Board of Regents).
These proposals are a starting point for months of debate. Keep in the mind that the composition of the General Assembly is more balanced than it has been for many years, which means we can expect lively debates.
 Please read the following for more information:
There are many actions being planned, but we strongly encourage you to attend our Lobby Day on Friday, March 31. Please save the date and plan to attend. We need a large turnout to tell our legislators that these proposals are unacceptable. More information to come!

February 10th, 2017

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Last week, CSCU was asked to submit to the Office of Policy & Management reduction options for a 10% cut, which painted a very bleak picture for the Community Colleges. You can read all about it in the following article: A 10 percent cut to state colleges would be “devastating” (CT Mirror).
Please keep in mind that these are not recommended cuts, nor are they being implemented. At this point, they are simply worst case scenarios. The Community Colleges will likely not be immune from any and all budget cuts or rescissions, but it would more likely be a mix of cuts and savings.
We will continue to keep you informed, but one event to keep in mind is a January 26th Higher Education Day of Action. The 4Cs, CSU-AAUP, and UConn-AAUP will be encouraging students, faculty, and staff to speak out on higher education issues at the Capitol. This will be an excellent opportunity for all to make their voices heard to the decision makers.

November 29th Actions
Low wage workers, including adjunct faculty and graduate students, are joining with child care, airport, and fast food workers to protest on November 29.
Locally, we will be standing up for living wage jobs, racial justice, and affordable child care with the following actions in Hartford:
  • 6:00am: Strike with Fast Food Workers at McDonald’s, 214 Prospect Avenue
  • 3:30pm: Rally for Care for Kids at the State Capitol, 210 Capitol Avenue
  • 5:00pm: Massive Fight for $15 Action at McDonald’s, 172 Washington Street
Join us!! RSVP or acquire more information by emailing kvnburgos1@gmail.com.
Read more about the actions planned across the country here, including the following quote from a graduate student about why he’s planning to participate in this day of action:
Scott Barish, a research and teaching assistant in the biology department at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, said that although he led class discussions, mentored students and helped write grant proposals, his pay didn’t match his duties.
“When I started working at Duke, I was shocked to see that graduate assistants like me were treated as though our work was not valuable,” Barish told callers.
“We’re not paid enough to meet the rising cost of living, which is why many grad assistants are fighting for unions. so together we can have more power to speak out and create a better work environment. On Nov. 29, we will be out in the streets . . . for higher pay, union rights and respect for all Americans,” Barish said.

November 22nd, 2016

Posted In: Political Action, State Budget, Unions

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