by Jennifer Sanguano
In a call to create “fairness” across Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy made a vast number of promises to state residents, all of which included issues ranging from minimum wage in the state to health care coverage. However, education was left out of the discussion despite it being a key issue for many in the state.
Malloy, who gave his last address to the state on Feb. 7, has been under fire for years after continuously proposing cutting funding for higher education. The issue is still a hot topic, as cuts to the Department of Education, Office of Higher Education and Connecticut State Colleges and Universities have been called for in next year’s proposal.
A professor of history, Louise Williams, said she is familiar with not only the exclusion of education from the table of discussion, but also what she believes is a constant lack of financial support from the state.
“Cuts to public and higher education, whether it is public universities, UConn or the community colleges, just continues this trend of the state government paying less and less for public higher education,” Williams said.
“This has been going on for years, and the result is that tuition [is] increasing because in order to pay for education, somebody has to pay for it,” Williams continued. “So if the state is not gonna pay for it, [it] means that students are going to be paying for it.”
Still, despite the failure to mention education, Malloy continued to call for equality and fairness to take place in the state.
“This year, in the face of growing national inequity and unfairness, I want to begin a conversation about a series of commonsense changes we can adapt to advance our proud tradition of Connecticut Fairness,” Malloy said.
The Democratic governor added to his speech other concerns such as affordable housing, access to healthcare, juvenile court and gun control.
Still, Republican Sen. Paul Formica said Malloy’s proposal showed some discrepancies with his statements on Wednesday.
“When he talks about fairness, he talks about increasing the opportunity for businesses, yet we have another tax on tires. He mentions the first union for cooks and waiters back in 1902 and yet he’s increased sales taxes on restaurants and not any other industry,” Formica said.
Williams also said she believes that education is a long-term investment that could potentially benefit the state both economically and socially.
“His reduction to the education cost sharing is problematic for founding education in cities and towns, especially in the middle of a cycle [it is] is very difficult to keep founding those services when you have a revenue that was promised and then withdrawn,” Formica said.
Malloy also proposed implementing tolls and raising taxes on gas, taking a possible hit to commuter students’ wallets.
Malloy was also quick to address the accomplishments of his administration over the past seven years, saying he is proud of the minimum wage increase and legalization of gay marriage.
Connecticut will say goodbye to Malloy in 2018, as gubernatorial and midterm elections will take place this year on Nov. 6.