Connecticut lawmakers expressed strong opposition to a recent state board of education proposal.
The proposal was to shut down some vocational-technical high school in the next fiscal year as well as eliminate sports programs at "all" of the state's technical schools.
Many said the decision was short-sighted and ill advised.
All state agencies are being told to cut their budgets by 10 percent, but lawmakers say hitting vo-tech schools is the wrong move...especially when companies like Pratt and Whitney and Electric Boat are looking to hire thousands.
"It’s something you should be thankful for, it’s such an opportunity, and you get a lot out of it," said Prince Tech student Javier Echevarria.
He’s learning how to fix cars and plans to start working as soon as he graduates.
Connecticut has 17 vo-tech schools, with 11,000 students.
The placement rate for jobs in some schools is higher than 90 percent.
"I am shocked and quite frankly outraged that board of education would consider this,” said Democratic House Majority Leader State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz.
Democratic lawmakers have strong criticism for the plan made by the state Board of Education to close two vo-tech schools.
Connecticut is a national leader in advanced manufacturing, and the tech schools are filling the pipeline for companies looking for trained workers.
"Bridgeport Fittings really depends on the vo-tech system to provide skilled candidates to our business. If we didn't have these schools, it would put us in a monumental set back,” said Tom Auray of Bridgeport Fittings.
While the state Board of Education was told to cut 10 percent of its budget, and may have to close two tech schools, it isn’t a done deal yet.
"If we send memos and ask what 5 or 10 percent reductions would look like, or reductions on top of that, it’s a discussion, it's not a plan,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said.
Republicans point out if democrats were willing to cut spending years ago, today's cuts would not be so painful.
"What we have seen over the past 8 years is deflecting, deflecting, deferring, deferring,all this has created a crisis for our state,” said Republican State Rep. Vinnie Candelora.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) commented on the proposal.
“Obviously the news that the Department of Education is looking at such deep cuts shows that the governor’s ‘new economic reality’ is getting worse and our future holds more painful cuts because of the inability of the governor and current legislative leaders to manage our state finances. The only reason a Democrat legislative leader would have a press conference to oppose an idea from the Malloy administration is to grab a headline and attempt to create the appearance of having a backbone. What House Democrats apparently forgot is that they are the majority in the legislature and therefore they control any and all budgets that get passed in the state of Connecticut. They don’t need to beg Gov. Malloy not to do something; they are the ones with the power to stop him. They are the ones with the authority to call a special session today so the legislature can begin addressing current and future budget problems right away and offering our own ideas. But instead of action, we get a press conference," Fasano said in a statement on Thursday.
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