Conn. Legislative Democrats Show They Are Not Beholden to a ‘Very’ Special Interest

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Democrats in the General Assembly have thrown off the shackles of union oppression and have decided not to override Gov. Dannel Malloy’s veto of a bill that would have dictated to Malloy and future governors what qualifications an education commissioner must have.

The decision is a win for ensuring existing executive authority, diversity in high-ranking state positions and most importantly, legislative independence from a special interest group—the teachers unions.

As The Hanging Shad reported late Thursday, there simply was not the appetite to press this issue particularly in the state Senate. Friday morning, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey confirmed there would be no override vote on the education commissioner qualifications bill or any other for that matter.

The Connecticut Education Association and its stooges in the blogosphere had been lobbying hard for an override. It’s understandable that CEA leadership thought it could put together enough votes. The union has long had certain Democratic lawmakers so deeply in its pocket they couldn’t see out. They still do, just not enough to override a veto which would have taken an absolute two-thirds majority (two-thirds of the entire Senate and House, not just of those present and voting).

Now CEA flunkies are decrying what they say is a “cowardly” refusal to genuflect to the union. The fact is, Malloy showed courage by vetoing the bill and the legislative majority showed some backbone by not once again doing CEA’s bidding.

To begin with, the bill was nothing more than a vindictive “screw you” to Malloy over Malloy’s choice of the charter-school-friendly Stephen Pryor as education chief (Pryor left last August). The union thought it would flex its muscles and dictate to the chief executive what qualifications his nominee must have—a cynical power play that failed.

It’s not as though those who oppose a particular education chief nominee don’t have recourse. If the unions—or anyone else—object to a governor’s selection, they are free to voice their concerns during the confirmation process. That’s exactly what the process is for, to vet a nominee’s qualifications and fitness for the position. But that process wasn’t good enough for the CEA. It wanted to set the terms, its terms, ahead of time.

Is it possible the legislature may not be so quick to bow to the wishes of the education unions? We’ll see. But this is a good start.