State news roundup for October 6, 2012


Pennsylvania – New survey shows that school funding crisis is deepening

A new survey shows that nearly $1 billion in Gov. Tom Corbett’s state funding cuts continue to wreak havoc on Pennsylvania’s school districts, forcing them to dramatically reduce or eliminate student programs at the same time that the state’s academic expectations are increasing.

PSEA President Mike Crossey pointed to a new survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators as evidence of a deepening school funding crisis.

“These survey results confirm what parents, students, and educators already know,” Crossey said. “There is a school funding crisis in Pennsylvania, and state government needs to make solving it the top priority.”

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New Jersey – Report highlights role educators, firefighters, cops play in economic recovery

NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan joined Senator Frank Lautenberg on Wednesday at a press conference [ed note: pictured above] to unveil a report that details the impact New Jersey’s public sector cuts as a result of Governor Christie’s policies have had on the state employment rate.

The report, issued by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), states that if the 61,200 public-sector jobs were not lost, New Jersey’s 2011 unemployment rate would be more than a full percentage point lower—8 percent instead of the current 9.3 percent.

Hundreds of public workers gathered at the Statehouse to call attention to the report’s release and to watch as Lautenberg, Blistan, and other union officials blasted the governor for his failure to recognize the role public-sector jobs—and the people who fill them—play in helping states recover more quickly from a recession.


Massachusetts – Legislation signed in November leads to pension and buyback changes

Important changes are taking place in the rules governing certain aspects of retirement and the buyback of creditable service.

On Nov. 18, Governor Deval Patrick signed “An Act Providing for Pension Reform and Benefit Modernization,” which revised certain rules affecting current active members and increased benefits for certain retirees and survivors.

Effective April 2, 2012, the measure also significantly changed the benefit structure for new members enrolling in a Massachusetts public retirement system or re-enrolling after taking a refund.

The legislation, Chapter 176 of the Acts of 2011, includes a provision dealing with an increase in the interest rate for the purchase of service. As a result, the interest charged on certain service purchases will double from the current 4.125 percent “buyback” rate to the level of “actuarial interest,” which is now 8.25 percent.

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Connecticut – ECS task force discusses conditional funding, transition to a new formula

With only three months remaining before it’s due to issue a final report, the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Task Force met yesterday to discuss recommendations from its subcommittee examining new funding formulas.

The formula subcommittee is currently collecting data on different formula variations and is developing a set of objectives to assess the formulas. The subcommittee plans to present a few of the best options to the entire task force in the coming weeks.

The ECS Task Force is charged with developing recommendations for ways to change how state funding is divided up by school district. “We need to intentionally prepare for some of the concerns that might arise from the legislature,” said Task Force Co-Chair and Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Ben Barnes.

“We want to make things fair, but there may well be examples of individual communities who don’t feel treated fairly,” Barnes said.

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