• Coming Soon to a State Near You: Connecticut Courts Take Over Public School System

    Last week, Connecticut’s bad economic future just got worse. And taxpayers in every state should take notice.

    The reminders of Connecticut’s disastrous economy are all too familiar, and even before last week, 2016 had been a doozy of a year. General Electric started things off in January. After a bitter and public feud with Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy over the use of in-state businesses like G.E. as a “piggy bank,” the company announced that it would relocate its headquarters and hundreds of jobs to Massachusetts, of all places.

    This June, a study by George Mason University ranked Connecticut 50th among US states and Puerto Rico in overall “fiscal health.” It cited a kitchen sink of ugly statistics like per-capita debt ($505), total debt (about $21 billion) and Connecticut’s desperate use of debt to pay for routine spending.  Mundane details aside, Connecticut’s “fiscal health” ranked ahead of only Puerto Rico’s.

    But last week might prove to be the most destructive yet for Connecticut: Following years of litigation and a 60-day trial, a state trial judge issued a 90-page ruling that’s already been heralded by progressives around the country as a “clarion moment” for “education reform.”

    The ruling concludes that the state “is defaulting on its constitutional duty” to poor students.  And so, in his eminent wisdom and with the stroke of his mighty pen, the judge cast aside the wishes and prerogatives of millions of voters and ordered the state to submit plans to fix—to His Honor’s liking—allegedly unfair treatment of poor districts.  (Simply put, Connecticut must re-write its entire public school funding system.  And voters’ choices don’t matter, since the judge thinks the voters brought about “irrational” results.)

    If this sounds familiar it’s because it is prototypical, big government liberalism: a centralized, top-down mandate for “equity” and “fairness” as a prelude to—what else?—more taxes.  And bigger problems.

    As Margaret Thatcher said, liberals eventually run out of other peoples’ money. And now Connecticut—which has been running out of taxpayers’ money for a long time and already caught in a “death spiral”—will now have to spend even more money that it doesn’t have.

    There’s no question that so-called “gold coast,” NYC commuter towns in Fairfield County are wealthier than others in the state. So stipulated. But these towns already pay about half of the state’s income taxes, pay higher property taxes, and fund a bigger share of their own schools.  In fact, with the state’s fiscal noose tightening, Democrats like Malloy have vindictively targeted small, GOP-majority towns while tens of millions of dollars pour into schools in Malloy-friendly cities.

    G.E. and others have had enough. How many other Connecticut taxpayers will join them?

    Last week’s ruling isn’t just a Connecticut problem, either. Progressives around the country are giddy. It’s a “landmark” ruling they say. A “game-changer.”  And whether you’re in a “red” or “blue” state, “fairness” may be coming soon to a courthouse near you.

    Bill Lalor

    Bill Lalor is an attorney and sometime political advisor, campaign manager, and writer. He lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with his wife Jennifer and kids, Evan (9) and Katelyn (7). Bill is a proud Penn State graduate. He enjoys long walks on the beach and is annually self-nominated for Father of the Year. On Twittter: @polemi23.

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