CTMirror.org file photo
Connecticut State Capitol
Connecticut State Capitol CTMirror.org file photo

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.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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