Democrats will not attempt to override Malloy vetoes

Connecticut State Capitol

CTMirror.org file photo

Connecticut State Capitol

Majority Democrats in the General Assembly will not try to override any of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s vetoes when they meet in special session Monday, House and Senate Democratic leadership announced Friday morning.

The state’s largest teachers’ union, the Connecticut Education Association, has been lobbying lawmakers to override the Democratic governor’s veto of a bill that would require education commissioners to have experience as a teacher and school administrator. The legislation, sought by labor unions, was a reaction to teachers’ displeasure with Malloy’s first commissioner, Stefan Pryor, whose primary education credential was as a co-founder of a charter school in Connecticut but whose career was in economic development positions.

“The general consensus among our members, and in light of some of the governor’s concerns, is that these issues would be best re-looked at during the next regular session. Therefore we will not be scheduling any override votes,” House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, wrote in a brief statement Friday.

“Based on feedback from caucus members, we have decided that we will not attempt to override any of the governor’s vetoes,” added Adam Joseph, spokesman for the Senate Democratic Caucus.

The legislature technically is required to conduct a special session next week to decide whether it wants to override any of the governor’s vetoes from the 2015 regular session. Sharkey and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, are expected to hold that session on Monday.

“From historic transportation investments, to Second Chance, to property tax relief, to the wide spectrum of bills that have now become law, this session was a very productive one,” Malloy spokesman Devon Puglia said. “We look forward to working with the legislature to move Connecticut into the future and make even more progress for residents during the next one.”

Union leaders said they will continue to push for a change next legislative session because teachers want to ensure that future education chiefs have classroom experience. During Pryor’s four-year tenure, he helped the governor craft controversial proposals to link teacher evaluations to standardized test results and to allow the state to intervene in the lowest-performing schools, including by reassigning teachers to other schools.

“We are disappointed that it will not be brought forth,” Mark Waxenberg, the executive director of the CEA, said Friday after hearing that the Democratic controlled General Assembly would not vote on overriding the credentials bill. “This issue is not going to go away.”

The Malloy administration offered no testimony opposing the bill during the session, but the governor wrote in a veto message that it “encroaches on the purview of the chief executive of the state to select a candidate whom s/he deems the best candidate.”

Malloy said that the legislature has ample ability to weigh in on the governors’ selection through the confirmation process. “The legislature has the right to reject any candidate nominated by the governor that they do not feel possesses the appropriate qualifications and experience,” Malloy wrote.

Under the bill, the governor and the State Board of Education would have had to choose an education chief with a minimum of five years of classroom experience and three years of experience in school administration. The bill was approved unanimously in the state Senate and by a vote of 138 to 5 in the House.

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