Thursday, November 25, 2010

What He Said v. What He Meant



Sen. Zarelli, the Republican state budget expert out of Ridgefield, has been releasing a good series of videos on the state budget crisis. A section from the most recent video (above) that caught my ear:

I believe that we ought to make some change in this area. I believe that it ought to be that the contract that is in place, once declared by the Governor or by the legislature of this particular (time of) financial hardship, that that contract in all its forms ought to become moot and the contract off the table which would then demand and require that the two parties go back and reach an agreement that works within the framework of what we can afford to do given the scenario that we find ourselves in.
One could read that to mean that Sen. Zarelli thinks that, in the event of a financial emergency, the state could tear up any existing agreements and go renegotiate new ones. Not just on compensation--everything would be in play. Later a slide in the video clarifies:
Upon declaration of "significant revenue shortfall", financial provisions of existing agreement are null and void.
....which is a narrower scope, but still worrisome.

Why worry? Look east, to Idaho, where numerous school districts, abetted by the legislature, are playing financial games to unilaterally reopen contracts, lower teacher compensation, and save money. Is it appropriate? Quite possibly, yes, but why not go to your local associations and have an honest conversation instead of turning this into a monologue where the teachers are told they need to give without other options being considered?

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