State’s Economy Isn’t Strong; And a Teacher Salary Trick

Chris Powell


TwitterFacebookCopy LinkPrintEmail

Democrats warn that Donald Trump’s return to the presidency will endanger Social Security and Medicare. Trump has made ambiguous and contradictory comments on those programs and is not the master of policy details.

But as a practical matter President Biden’s administration [ITALICS] already [END ITALICS] has made big cuts in Social Security and Medicare — through raging inflation and uncontrolled illegal immigration.

This year’s cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits was 3.2%, the official rate of inflation. But the official rate long has been only a fraction of the real rate, which is closer to 9 or 10%, since the federal government has been manipulating the criteria for calculating inflation to make it look much lower than it really is. Anyone can see that under Biden the prices of food and housing — the biggest necessities — have risen far above 3.2% annually.

Meanwhile the explosion in illegal immigration resulting from Biden’s policy of open borders is causing big financial losses for hospitals, which now have many more uninsured patients to treat. This degrades service to everyone else.

The president, a Democrat, claims that the national economy is strong. Governor Lamont, also a Democrat, says the same about Connecticut’s economy. But their economic data doesn’t match real life, where poverty and homelessness are soaring.

Demand at Connecticut’s food pantries has increased sharply because of worsening poverty and illegal immigration.

A telling observation came recently from the chief executive of Connecticut Foodshare, Jason Jakubowski. “Grocery prices and cost of living are so high right now that we are seeing more people both at our local pantries and mobile food trucks,” Jakubowski said. “Many are fully employed. In our line of business, unemployment is usually the problem, but in this case it’s inflation and cost of living, not unemployment.”

Meanwhile donations of food and money to Connecticut’s food banks are falling, another indicator of hard times.

Economic weakness is also indicated by a big increase in the school lunch debt of Connecticut students.

So complaining about what Trump and the Republicans might do to Social Security and Medicare seems like an opportunistic distraction from the much broader impoverishment Democratic administrations are inflicting.


Despite the longstanding inverse correlation between student performance and teacher compensation in Connecticut, most of the state’s legislators still can’t distinguish between education and teacher unions.

The other day the General Assembly’s Education Committee approved a bill to set a minimum annual salary for teachers of $60,000, a $12,000 or 25% increase over what is said to be the state’s average starting salary for teachers, $48,000.

The legislation couldn’t be more dishonest.

For its biggest effect would be not on salaries for starting teachers but salaries for all other teachers, who are far more numerous. The teacher unions, advocates of the legislation, largely control teacher salaries on the school district level through Connecticut’s system of binding arbitration of government employee union contracts. So as soon as pay for starting teachers goes up 25%, the unions will demand and almost certainly receive similar raises for all other teachers. Most of the spending increase under the legislation won’t go to starting teachers at all but to those already employed.

Where is the extra money to come from? The legislation would take it from what state government still has from the federal emergency aid for recovery from the recent virus epidemic. But everyone else is grabbing at that money too and it will run out and not be replaced. So the teacher salary legislation means big municipal property tax increases or more big claims on the state budget, which is already bumping into its “fiscal guardrails.”

At least the Republican minority in the legislature wants to re-establish the Program Review and Investigations Committee, which was eliminated years ago in the demented belief that there was nothing seriously wrong for the legislature to investigate.

A good start for the restored committee would be to investigate that inverse correlation between education spending and student performance. 


Chris Powell has written about Connecticut government and politics for many years. (