Connecticut's Biggest Teachers Union Sues State Over Spending Cuts

By Joseph De Avila Features Dow Jones Newswires

Connecticut's largest teachers union Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the state, seeking an injunction to stop $500 million in education spending cuts that came into effect as the state's budget impasse drags on.

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In its lawsuit filed in Hartford Superior Court, the Connecticut Education Association said the reductions in school funding under an executive order signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy in July would jeopardize the ability of school districts to provide a quality education.

The result of the cuts "will be devastating to the public schools of Connecticut," the lawsuit said. Other plaintiffs include the city of Torrington and the towns of Brooklyn and Plainfield. The plaintiffs also said the state overstepped its authority by reducing those funds without legislative action.

Gov. Malloy's executive order was put in place at the start of the fiscal year on July 1 to keep state operations running after the state Legislature failed to pass a budget. The order maintains the same amount of funding for the state's lowest-performing schools, but reduces or eliminates aid to more than 130 municipalities around the state.

The lawsuit comes as state lawmakers struggle to pass a state budget to close a two-year $3.5 billion deficit that could reverse some of the cuts from the governor's executive order.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mr. Malloy said he is encouraged by progress state lawmakers have made at finalizing a budget, and added that his staff is working on a proposal as well. It is still unclear when lawmakers will reach a budget deal that can pass.

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Of the lawsuit, Mr. Malloy said the union's action was premature. If lawmakers were to agree on a budget, then the spending cuts contained in the executive order could be reversed.

The state sent out the first of three installments of education funding under the executive order at the beginning of October. Some towns say they are weighing whether to raise property taxes to address the reduced municipal-aid payments under the executive order.

The state faces another high-profile legal case related to education funding. The Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month in a long-running civil case where the plaintiffs claimed the state didn't provide low-income students a minimally adequate and equal education.

In a ruling last year, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher agreed in part with the plaintiffs and ordered the state to devise a new funding method. The state Supreme Court issued a stay on that order as it weighs the case.

Write to Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com

Connecticut's largest teachers union Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the state, seeking an injunction to stop $500 million in education spending cuts that came into effect as the state's budget impasse drags on.

In its lawsuit filed in Hartford Superior Court, the Connecticut Education Association said the reductions in school funding under an executive order signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy in July would jeopardize the ability of school districts to provide a quality education.

The result of the cuts "will be devastating to the public schools of Connecticut," the lawsuit said. Other plaintiffs include the city of Torrington and the towns of Brooklyn and Plainfield. The plaintiffs also said the state overstepped its authority by reducing those funds without legislative action.

Gov. Malloy's executive order was put in place at the start of the fiscal year on July 1 to keep state operations running after the state Legislature failed to pass a budget. The order maintains the same amount of funding for the state's lowest-performing schools, but reduces or eliminates aid to more than 130 municipalities around the state.

The lawsuit comes as state lawmakers struggle to pass a state budget to close a two-year $3.5 billion deficit that could reverse some of the cuts from the governor's executive order.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mr. Malloy said he is encouraged by progress state lawmakers have made at finalizing a budget, and added that his staff is working on a proposal as well. It is still unclear when lawmakers will reach a budget deal that can pass.

Of the lawsuit, Mr. Malloy said the union's action was premature. If lawmakers were to agree on a budget, then the spending cuts contained in the executive order could be reversed.

The state sent out the first of three installments of education funding under the executive order at the beginning of October. Some towns say they are weighing whether to raise property taxes to address the reduced municipal-aid payments under the executive order.

The state faces another high-profile legal case related to education funding. The Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month in a long-running civil case where the plaintiffs claimed the state didn't provide low-income students a minimally adequate and equal education.

In a ruling last year, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher agreed in part with the plaintiffs and ordered the state to devise a new funding method. The state Supreme Court issued a stay on that order as it weighs the case.

Write to Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 11, 2017 16:47 ET (20:47 GMT)