Connecticut Education Association (CEA) Executive Director Mark Waxenberg says he “was stunned” when he heard Gov. Dannel Malloy vetoed a bill that would have dictated what qualifications Malloy’s appointed education commissioner has to have. That the CEA thought it could tell Malloy what to consider when appointing the commissioner is typical. The fact that Waxenberg was “stunned” is telling: How dare the governor go against what the state’s largest teachers union wants!
This is an inconvenient fact in the Connecticut General Assembly: Whatever labor in general (see nursing home reimbursements) and teachers unions specifically want something, they usually get an “amen” from legislators. Supporting what labor wants means contributions to campaigns and foot soldiers to canvass districts. If you’re a lawmaker, cross the teachers unions at your own peril.
Fortunately, the governor cannot be bullied even on an issue that has been a source of consternation between him and the CEA and to a lesser extent the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The education commissioner is the governor’s appointment. That means he gets to choose who fills the role. He doesn’t need a bill from the legislature telling him what the qualifications for the position should be.
Waxenberg promises an effort to override the veto. Good luck. It’s the height of arrogance that labor thinks it has such sway over the General Assembly that it could get two-thirds of each chamber—101 in the House and 24 in the Senate—to impose its will. There are only 21 Democratic senators—the most likely to vote to override—although there is very little chance labor could get them all. There’s no telling what the Republicans would do.
Malloy has shown an independent streak, a willingness to stand up to labor. That’s something very rare in the Connecticut General Assembly.