Monday, April 22, 2013

Priorities.

Senate bill 1160 - more commonly known as the "gun bill", was probably one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that has been debated in the Connecticut General Assembly in the last 20 years.

Regardless of where you stand/stood on the bill, there is one glaring deficiency. Straight from the summary:

The bill (1) creates a new council to establish new school safety infrastructure standards, (2) authorizes up to 15 million in bonds for a new competitive grant program for school safety projects, and (3) establishes a procedure leading to new requirements under the school construction law.
It requires school districts to perform a number of new school safety activities including establishing safety and security plans and committees for each school.

Yep. That's it. Just $15 million to help provide safe and secure schools for the entire state.

That's a little better than the governor's budget, which proposed...let's see... nothing for school security improvements - the best that Governor Malloy's budget could muster was allowing cities and towns to use LOCIP, a state grant, for school safety improvements and construction. LOCIP is a grant that has traditionally been used for street paving, sidewalk repairs and other infrastructure work.

At the same time the Appropriations Committee of the General Assembly and the governor have proposed borrowing $750 million to move the state to GAAP (because we all know GAAP's gotta be a priority), and borrowing an additional $1.5 billion on an expansion of the UConn campus.

There is no question that UConn is an outstanding institution and that moving to GAAP is important, but there can be no greater priority than hardening our elementary schools to provide a safe and secure environment for our children and our staff.

Security work on our public school infrastructure will cost tens of millions of dollars if not more over the next year for cities and towns across Connecticut. Everything from adding vestibules, changing windows, installing camera systems, adding communications equipment, and realigning the layout of our buildings will be required to ensure the safety of students and staff.

$15 million?

A breathtaking omission by the legislature and the governor, and more importantly, a complete lack of understanding of what the priorities of the State of Connecticut ought be.






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