State News Roundup for September 17, 2011
Massachusetts – Senate Pension Bill Passes 24-10
A Senate pension bill designed to save the state $5 billion over 30 years by reducing benefits for future employees passed September 15 by a vote of 24-10. The final bill included several amendments supported by the MTA, but the financial impact of those changes on future employees still needs to be analyzed.
“We are disappointed that the bill passed because we truly believe that educators already pay enough for their own pension benefits,” said MTA President Paul Toner. “We greatly appreciate the support that public education received from the 10 senators who voted with us in the end. Now we will take our case to the House.”
The 10 senators who voted against the bill were Sal DiDomenico, Ken Donnelly, Jamie Eldridge, Susan Fargo, Pat Jehlen, John Keenan, Tom McGee, James Timilty, Steve Tolman and Dan Wolf. Senator Marc Pacheco, who was not present, supported the MTA position by “pairing” his vote with that of an absent senator who favored the measure.
Toner noted that MTA members sent 7,125 e-mails to their senators in less than a week, as well as contacting them via postcards, phone calls and in personal meetings in their districts set up by MTA’s new Legislative and Political Action Teams and in the State House.
Get the whole story at MassTeacher.org.
California – State Leaders Vow to Stabilize School Funding for Coming Year
Mobilizing for fights that lie ahead, an estimated 1,700 educators attending CTA’s two summer training conferences reacted enthusiastically to vows by Gov. Jerry Brown and state Senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg to protect public schools and the newly signed CTA-backed law that stabilizes education funding for the coming year.
Both leaders joined CTA President Dean E. Vogel in underscoring the importance of Assembly Bill 114, the vital education budget trailer bill Brown signed June 30 to offer a reprieve to schools from endless state budget cuts. Among other things, the bill prohibits any last-minute teacher layoffs in August and guarantees that school districts will get the same funding as last fiscal year, allowing them to rehire many laid-off educators.
Speaking July 22 at the 57th annual CTA Presidents Conference in Pacific Grove, Brown delivered a firm message to school district officials who have criticized the new law and publicly doubted AB 114 funding. “When we say the money is coming, you [can] assume it’s coming.”
He said school districts should not ignore the mandates of the legislation, and more districts should read his AB 114 signing letter to understand that they do have some flexibility.
Visit CTA.org to read the full story.
Pennsylvania – New Report Details Impact of Brutal School Funding Cuts on Pennsylvania Students
As Pennsylvania children start the new school year, they are finding fewer teachers and school staff, larger class sizes, reduced course offerings, outdated textbooks, reduced opportunities for extra help, and cuts to and fees charged for extracurricular activities.
A report from two groups representing school administrators and business managers confirms what teachers already knew - state funding cuts to Pennsylvania’s public schools have adversely affected the quality of education in the Commonwealth.
“When Governor Tom Corbett and the General Assembly reached a deal on the state budget in June and cut nearly $900 million from public schools, Pennsylvania’s teachers predicted our students would feel the consequences,” said Michael J. Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “This report confirms our predictions.
“Now, with fewer resources, the challenge of educating our students, especially in schools serving struggling communities, has become much more difficult,” Crossey said.
Florida – SB 736 Lawsuit Filed by Florida Education Association
The Florida Education Association (FEA) and the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association (SC/TA), on behalf of teachers throughout the state, filed a lawsuit today in Circuit Court in Tallahassee contending that provisions of a bill passed earlier this year by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott are unconstitutional because they deny teachers their right to effective collective bargaining on wages and terms and conditions of employment.
The lawsuit asserts that the Legislature enacted legislation that was unconstitutional when that body passed SB 736, which substantially changed wages, employment contracts, performance evaluations, promotions and workforce reduction provisions that had been previously negotiated between teachers and local school districts.
“These changes swept away the right of employees to negotiate their wages and terms and conditions of employment, a right that is guaranteed and protected by the Florida Constitution,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “The changes that lawmakers pushed through should have been collectively bargained between school districts and teachers.”
Click here to read the full story on FEAweb.org and look for more coverage of SB 736 coming next week on EdVotes.
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