To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Susan Shultz’ editorial “Silence” of last week.
I agree with Ms. Shultz that our legislators should be responsive to questions from all their constituents and cooperate with the press. A free press is one of the most precious rights we have in America. As such, I applaud Ms. Shultz for asking questions and asking hard, probing questions and demanding answers.
On other points, we diverge. Ms. Shultz asks, “Where is the fairness?” Yet, her editorial as a standalone piece is itself not fair and balanced. For example, she makes no mention of either the rationale behind the budget nor the history behind the budget (budgets problems for years across administrations of both political parties). Which leads to her second question, “What is the justification?” Even a cursory news search reveals justification. For example, a Feb. 3, 2017 CT Mirror article details some explanations such as the fact that higher teacher salaries in towns like Darien mean that teacher pensions from towns like ours are higher than for lower-income towns. Darien has fabulous schools and some of the best teachers in the state. Should we ask surrounding towns to pick up the extra cost of our teacher pensions? Another justification comes from our state’s obligation to schools statewide. Our courts have determined that the state is not doing enough to improve schools in low income areas. Whether we like it or not, the state cannot shed that responsibility. Beyond any legal responsibility, isn’t it in our interests to educate state children to be good workers and build our business community?
I don’t like paying higher taxes any more than anyone else does. I don’t like unbalanced budgets either. I am not going to delve into budget details because frankly, as a private citizen not involved in the government, I don’t know every detail. This is information our legislators can provide. But what I do know is that Connecticut needs people willing to roll their sleeves up and do something to help. Volunteer at our schools or schools in surrounding towns. If you a finance expert, volunteer or offer solutions to help state and schools. If you a tax expert, again volunteer or offer solutions. Throwing out questions without facts or context does not help. Complaining while not actively addressing the things leading to the budget shortfall does not help. Let’s be part of a solution and let’s do it together because that’s the only way we’ll get to where we need to be.
Candice M. Hughes, PhD, MBA