Education Funding Cuts

As the economy continues to sour, state legislators are scouring for any ways to save moneyand education funding cuts are the most common. But what does this mean for our schools?

“You have to understand that public education is the largest public enterprise and in fact one of the largest employers in the state of Connecticut”, says Thomas Murphy, from the State Department of Education.

Public education employs more than 52,000 teachers in the state of Connecticut, and provides schools for over 250,000 students. Because of this, adequate funding is necessary in order to keep the system operating..

“Everybody has had to scale back and we understand that there have been several lay-offs around the state,” says Murphy.

In the Obama administration’s stimulus package, $780 million has been allotted to Connecticut for education. However, according to professor Donn Weinholtz, this is not nearly enough:

“The stimulus money was supposed to be in addition to existing funding lines, but what’s happened is that states have cut their education budgets, and their replacing it with stimulus money.”

“We’re fortunate that we have two years of federal stabilization or federal funding that will help keep things stable,” says Murphy.

Murphy says that after these two years, though, there is a likely chance that Connecticut taxes will rise to help offset costs.

“How much can we cut and still preserve services, and how much do we have 2 raise taxes to meet those thresholds.”

According to Murphy, the federal government provides only 7% of education funding. Even so, Murphy says raising the state tax will be a last resort. According to Weinholtz, it is easy to cut education funds as there is no immediate drawback, other than large sizes.