At midnight last night, the 2022 legislative session came to a close. A big THANK YOU to all the legislative leaders who have championed students under the Capitol dome this year!
Now, what exactly happened in these last few days of session?
State Budget’s Impact on Public Education
The House passed a Budget Implementer Bill on Monday, that was also taken up by the Senate late Tuesday night. After a long debate, they gave final approval to HB 5506, which provides over $600M in tax relief, as well as a new per-child credit against state income taxes for many households. The CT Mirror's Keith Phaneuf unpacks the budget here, pointing to a $100M investment in early child care and early childhood programs; a $90M investment in agencies serving people with developmental, mental, and behavioral issues; and an expansion of Medicaid to cover undocumented children who are 12 and under. Among many important sections in the over-600-page bill, this legislation:
Increases funding for bilingual education.
Requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to study special education expenditures by 2023.
Creates a three-tiered model of reimbursement for special education excess costs, based on the property wealth of each town.
Renews the Alliance District program and expands it from 33 districts to 36.
Creates a new Open Choice incentive grant of $2,000 per student in the Hartford region.
Requires local boards of education to conduct inspections of school HVAC systems.
Speeds up the phase-in of need-based weights for students in public charter schools, offering an additional $5M for CT charter schools and students.
The budget bill also makes minor adjustments to the phase-in schedule for the Education Cost Sharing grant, but it will remain essentially the same as it was designed in 2017.
Public School Choice
Within the budget implementer listed above was a considerable win for school choice. While an appropriation allowing the opening of the much-delayed Danbury Charter will need to wait another year, significant financial gains have been made. State charter school operating grants are supposed to be calculated using a per student formula that is weighted based on student need, but those weights are not yet fully phased in. The new budget will accelerate the timeline for a full phase-in of the weights for public charter school students by three years. It also adds funding for 175 additional seats in existing charter schools.
Last week, we took a deep dive into the three large bills impacting mental and behavioral support for children this session. By Tuesday night, each had cleared both the House and Senate. Last Thursday, the Hartford Courant's reporting covered Senate Bill 1, Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 5001—which contemplate resources for schools related to mental health, funding for early childhood, and public health investments in mental health, respectively. And according to the CT Mirror’s coverage on Tuesday, some lawmakers have called children's mental health the defining issue of the 2022 legislative session.
Other Important Reads This Week
With all the action under way in Hartford, we can’t forget to thank all the amazing educators out there during Teacher Appreciation Week!