June 16, 2012
AN HISTORIC AND POSITIVE CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
By State Rep. Elaine O'Brien
Our 2012 session of the Connecticut General Assembly has been labeled by most objective observers as an “historic” and positive session that, among many issues, brought important changes to job creation and education. We passed a critical budget that invests in jobs and education.
A year ago, we dealt with a budget shortfall in excess of $3 billion, 15 percent of our total budget.
This year, the House passed a $20.5 billion fiscal year 2013 budget adjustment bill. The budget keeps appropriations under the state’s constitutionally-mandated spending cap and continues our investments in education and job growth. Despite cuts in many areas, funding for cities and towns as well as for vital services has been saved.
One of the highlights of the 2012 legislative session is our commitmentto education, including more funding for school-based health centers and family resource centers. In addition, we acknowledge the critical importance of early childhood education, by underwriting 1,000 school readiness slots for preschoolers and funding several initiatives to improve early reading success.
Our historic education reform package establishes the Commissioner’s Network, which provides the intensive supports and interventions needed to turn around 25 of the most chronically low-performing schools in Connecticut.
It grants the state commissioner of education the needed authority to develop or modify plans with teachers and parents at “turnaround” schools, while respecting collective bargaining rights.
We reformed the teacher tenure system by increasing the frequency of teacher evaluations and linking tenure to evaluations.
There is no question that job creation and the economy must continue to be priority number one for all elected officials and policy makers
As a member of the Commerce Committee I am committed to supporting legislation that helps our businesses compete and able to hire workers.
To that end, we have passed comprehensive, bipartisan jobs legislation that invests hundreds of millions of dollars in small businesses, the backbone of Connecticut’s economy. Equally important, in response tothe concerns of employers, we have revised curriculum requirements for our community colleges and public colleges to better address both student job preparation and the needs of employers looking for people to hire.
I support all efforts at workforce development and improved job skill development as a critical component in creating jobs in Connecticut and in our region of the state.
As always, I am pleased to answer any questions about issues of concern to you or your family.
Rep. O’Brien serves on the Commerce, Planning and Development and Transportation Committees and represents the towns of East Granby, Suffield and Windsor.