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CSCUs Fight Serious Cuts, and Interesting State Comparisons on Teacher Salary

CT State Colleges and Universities Fight Serious Cuts

On Monday, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCUs) held a press conference in Hartford regarding the recently released budget plan from the Appropriations Committee. According to CFO Ben Barnes, the Committee's proposal would leave the regional school system $335M short of its current services, necessitating both tuition hikes and the elimination of thousands of full- and part-time positions. Governor Lamont’s office has argued that shortfalls to higher education in Connecticut are due to the lapsing of COVID-related federal funding —not a change in the state's baseline commitment. In fact, as the CT Mirror's Keith Phaneuf observes, the Governor's original budget proposal for higher education was even leaner than the Committee’s budget—82.5M less over the next two fiscal years.

According to the Hartford Courant, Sen. Derek Slap, who chairs the General Assembly's Higher Education & Employment Advancement committee, warned that he fears the budget cuts could "kick start a death spiral for this system." The CT Post quotes CSCU President Terrence Cheng as saying: “We are the state's primary engine of social mobility and workforce development, and most of our students don't come from the power zip codes of our state, but they are just as good as any and we are proud to serve them. The truth is, that disinvestment in CSCUs will force students out of higher education altogether, and this will hurt the economy and hurt communities."”

State Comparisons on Teacher Salary

On Monday, Education Week had a story comparing the average teacher pay, state-by-state. According to the National Education Association (NEA), the national average teacher salary was $42,845 in the 2021-22 school year; that's compared to $81,510 in Connecticut for the same year. The data set also contains the estimated average teacher salary for the current school year. We’ve exported that data, and put it up against the 2023 Cost of Living Index (COLI) for each state, according to World Population Review.

As the chart above illustrates, broadly speaking, states with a higher cost of living tend to also have higher teacher salaries. However, Connecticut is one of several states in which the estimated teacher salary relative to the COLI appears to be slightly above the national trend line. Here, the 2023 COLI is 121.6, and the average teacher salary is estimated to be $83,400. In Massachusetts, where the COLI is higher at 135, the average estimated teacher salary is likewise higher: $92,307. In contrast, West Virginia and Mississippi, with lower COLIs of 90.5 and 83.3 respectively, have far lower average salaries of $53,006 and $48,530. Nationwide, Hawaii stands out as the one major outlier; there, the COLI is the highest in the nation, 193.3, while the average estimated teacher salary is $70,947.

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