Spending Cuts in Education Led to Arbitration, Lawyers Say
Wednesday, December, 21, 2011
Arbitration attorney for the Wilton Connecticut Board of Education Thomas Mooney cites The United States' budget deficit, and Connecticut's debt in particular, as the reason for the current dispute between the education professionals and the Wilton Board of Education. His opening argument paid respect to the teachers while putting the state budget in perspective.
The Board of Education's Budget As Stated in the Mediation
According to Mr. Mooney's argument, the Board of Education has been floundering for the past three years because their current funding did not keep up with the obligations as negotiated in 2008. This, he contends, is due to the federal and state deficits.
In the past 8 years, the federal deficit soared from 3.9 trillion dollars to over 10.5 trillion. Connecticut's debt is currently standing at over 72 billion dollars.
To address the argument that Connecticut has a projected budget surplus of 100 million dollars thanks to the largest state tax hike in history, he gave a chart comparison between Connecticut's debt and this surplus. The debt was shown as a 10-inch column, while the surplus was about the size of a line drawn with a pencil. In short, his argument was that the state still needed to hold off on its spending.
Initial Proposals in the Dispute
The Board of Education's initial offer was 3% over 3 years. The teachers have so far held firm with their position of 3% plus step over 15% per year. This was cited as a typical initial proposal by Marilyn Mathes, the lead negotiator for the teachers union. Health insurance concessions may be negotiated in this process.
This arbitration still has several hearings to go before being finished.