Democratic candidate for governor Dan Malloy made a pitch to 3,000 teachers Wednesday night during a telephone town hall, using the opportunity to attack his opponent’s commitment to education funding and make other key distinctions.
Malloy referenced the state’s constitutional obligation to provide education at least twice during the call and called binding arbitration a right.
He said binding arbitration is not perfect, but it avoids strikes.
“If you want a governor who understands that binding arbitration is the hallmark of quality education in Connecticut,” Malloy said. “I am not going to change your right to binding arbitration.”
“The other folks on the other side have a big target on your back.”
According to CEA president Phil Apruzzese, the call began with 1,500 teachers on the line and by the end at least 3,000 teachers listened while fellow CEA members asked questions.
“We know that getting our members mobilized and to the polls is key for a Malloy-Wyman victory,” said Apruzzese at the beginning of the meeting.
“There’s really something at stake in this election,” Malloy said. “There’s a world of difference between me and the guy I’m running against.”
Malloy said Republican candidate Tom Foley’s plan to cut $2 billion from the budget won’t make up for the $3.4 billion budget deficit.
He said Foley would need to cut local aid to make up the rest.
“Whether its ECS or town road aid, he’s going after it,” Malloy explained, referring to education cost sharing grants.
Malloy said funding from the state has not kept pace with general inflation, let alone the rate of education inflation.
He said the concessions made by teachers to date are “noble.”
“When did public employees get a target on their backs,” Malloy said. “You’re making sacrifices in your job.”
“I believe a contract is a contract is a contract,” Malloy said, adding that it is unfair that “public employees are singled out for these givebacks.”
“There’s a difference from myself and Mr. Foley,” he said. “I support what you do.”
Malloy said he would “hold school systems harmless” for the 14.5 percent cut in education cost sharing grants imposed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
According to Malloy, the cuts were hidden through the use of federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as the stimulus bill. He said he would return ECS grants at least to their original level when the stimulus funds expire.
Malloy said he worried about the “potential unfairness” of merit pay or making salaries reflect test results.
He said such proposals are “a little scary, a little frightening” and that some people might not teach in urban areas “for fear that their compensation would be withheld.”
Malloy said teachers should be “secure in their compensation.”
“I am fearful of the outcome for teachers,” he said.
Instead, he said he supports “a system of review to ensure high quality teachers.”
“We’re going to have to have the discipline to fully fund our pension funds,” Malloy said. “We’re ranked the fifth worst state in funding our pension obligations.”
He said he has not given up on making defined benefit plans – pensions – work.
“We can. We know we can,” he said.
- Malloy said universal pre-kindergarten and early childhood education is the “foundation of closing the achievement gap.” He said it should be provided on a “sliding scale” to give low-income children the opportunity to attend school early.
- Connecticut municipalities rely more heavily on property taxes than any other state, according to Malloy. “We’re not the state that gets it right and everyone else gets it wrong,” he said, adding that communities should have the ability to use other taxes to fund themselves.
- Malloy said he supports “teacher-driven reform.” “Most teachers I know know what needs to be done in school systems,” he explained.
- “I am in favor of appropriate testing,” Malloy said, explaining that federal waivers are available to allow fewer tests.
Note: Janowski received a recorded phone call on his cell phone Tuesday from CEA president Phil Apruzzese inviting him to attend the telephone town hall for CEA members. Apruzzese said Janowski would receive a second call Wednesday night at about the same time. Janowski’s wife is a member of CEA, however, she has never used Janowski’s cell phone number as her own. Janowski does not know why he received the phone call.