As you probably know by now, the governor signed into law a state budget, passed with bipartisan support, that restores ECS funding to cities and towns but that imposes an unfair tax on teachers. While lawmakers tried to portray teachers’ increased pension contribution as anything but a tax, it is just that–a 1% tax on teachers that will cost the average teacher $750 per year, collectively raising $38 million in additional teacher payroll taxes. This increase does not ‘strengthen’ the teacher retirement fund or add to the fund at all. It simply increases the share that teachers pay into the Teacher Retirement System, and reduces the state’s share by the same amount.
In other budget news, we received the following message from Ms. Cohen regarding the TEAM mentoring program:
SDE says 100% of TEAM funds were cut in the new state budget ($3 million). That includes all state funds for stipends, for training and RESCs, and other programmatic costs. The budget was not released for public scrutiny until the legislature was voting on it, so SDE is now unpacking all of the implications of cuts that were not vetted by the department. Unfortunately, the TEAM program line item in the budget was apparently called “Talent,” and legislators thought the $3 million was not earmarked for critical programs.
As a result, SDE is saying they will not be able to pay stipends for mentors, nor pay for the scoring of the five reflection papers–so they are waiving that requirement. SDE is not happy about this and is trying to determine how the TEAM program can be salvaged between now and next session, when there could be a request to restore the funding.
That is what we know at this point. We will keep everyone apprised and current as developments occur.