The State of Connecticut’s Education Funding Formula (ECS) is underfunded by at least $800 million.
This means that many towns must raise their local property taxes higher than they should or that schools go without the funds they need to maintain adequate services.
Last week Governor Malloy proposed and the Democrats in the Legislature adopted a new law that read; “The Commissioner of Education may, upon approval by the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, provide a loan of up to three million five hundred thousand dollars to the city of Bridgeport for the purposes of inclusion in the budgeted appropriation of education for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, to cover education expenditures incurred during such fiscal year. As a condition of making such loan under this section, the commissioner (1) shall require the selection of a superintendent of schools or chief financial officer of the Bridgeport school district from a pool of up to three candidates approved by the commissioner…”
Bridgeport, you get a loan of $3.4 million in return for letting Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s education commissioner pick you superintendent.
Imagine the legislator from Weston or Woodbridge, Avon or Stonington, calling their local leaders and saying, I’ve got good news and bad. The state will loan us $3.4 million but we must let them pick the person who runs our schools.
Never. Never in a million years would the state demand or the local citizens in those communities, accept the state over-reaching its authority and telling one of those communities that they should have raised taxes more but since they didn’t, the state will give them a short term loan in return for picking their leaders.
But Malloy and the Legislature did it to the people of Bridgeport.
Why? Because they are poor? Because the vast majority of their students are Black and Latino? Because they are inherently more corrupt and can’t govern themselves? (Last time I looked nearly every Connecticut State and local official who has been hauled off to prison over the past thirty years was White.)
Perhaps just as shocking is that a reasonable case can be made that the State’s action is illegal because it is unconstitutional.
Article 10 of the Connecticut Constitutions deals with the issue of “HOME RULE.”
The article reads;
SEC. 1. The general assembly shall by general law delegate such legislative authority as from time to time it deems appropriate to towns, cities and boroughs relative to the powers, organization, and form of government of such political subdivisions. The general assembly shall from time to time by general law determine the maximum terms of office of the various town, city and borough elective offices. After July 1, 1969, the general assembly shall enact no special legislation relative to the powers, organization, terms of elective offices or form of government of any single town, city or borough, except as to (a) borrowing power, (b) validating acts, and (c) formation, consolidation or dissolution of any town, city or borough, unless in the delegation of legislative authority by general law the general assembly shall have failed to prescribe the powers necessary to effect the purpose of such special legislation.
It would, of course, be up to the Connecticut Supreme Court to interpret the meaning of Article 10, Section 1 of the State Constitution but (1) the state has clearly delegated to the towns the authority to choose a superintendent and (2) we are dealing with a situation that is occurring after July 1, 1969.
While the $3.4 million, in return for giving up their rights to select their superintendent of schools, deals with the “borrowing powers” of the community there is no way the framers of the State Constitution intended the state to be able to use changes in the a community’s “borrowing powers” to reach issues as fundamental as their right to self-governance.
Bridgeport is facing a deficit of $3.4 million. Malloy and the Democrats in the Legislature have said we’ll lend you the money if you’ll allow Stefan Pryor to pick your superintendent.
Considering that the situation would have been handled very differently in one of Connecticut’s many wealthy towns, and the action itself may not be legal, the question is;
Is the State of Connecticut’s action illegal, racist or both.