(Updated 5 p.m.) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed three bills Friday related to the state’s education system.
The first bill would have increased the number of University of Connecticut Board of Trustee members. The second would have removed the Office of Higher Education from any role in approving new and revised academic programs. The third bill would have required any unsubstantiated records of school employees related to abuse and neglect to be removed from their file.
According to the dates on the veto message, Malloy vetoed all three bills before leaving for a Democratic Governors Association retreat in Nantucket.
In his veto message on the first bill, Malloy wrote that he vetoed the expansion of the UConn Board of Trustees by two more student members because it would increase the membership of the board to 23 members.
“With two elected and voting student members the Board of Trustees the University of Connecticut already exceeds the average for student inclusion at public universities. Further, there are many avenues for student input in the decisions affecting the student community at the university,” Malloy wrote.
Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, and Rep. Gregg Haddad, D-Mansfield, were quick to condemn the veto.
Flexer said the bill passed both chambers of the legislature 180 to 1 and had broad bipartisan support.
“This was a disappointing and unwise veto,” Flexer said.
She said the school has grown over the past 40 years and student representation has remained stagnant.
“Over time, the share of the university’s operating budget that the state itself pays has decreased and increasingly that burden is falling on the student population,” Haddad said. “Bearing both of these realities in mind, it is only fair to strengthen the students’ voice on the Board of Trustees.”
The same day Malloy wrote the veto message, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees passed a budget without any public input, according to this Hartford Courant article.
Some Republican lawmakers said they will be crafting legislation to bring more transparency to the university’s budget process.
State Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton and state Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury said they became concerned when the $1.3 billion budget was passed after trustees reviewed it behind closed doors for only 90 minutes and with no input from the public.
“We are talking about more than a billion dollars in taxpayer money, and these budget decisions are being made in private? The public deserves better,” McLachlan said.
The second bill would have removed the roll the Office of Higher Education was given in 2013 to develop curriculum for Connecticut’s independent colleges. Malloy said the system should be given time to work.
“While I recognize that more work needs to be done to continue the process begun in 2013, if the oversight is to be removed or altered it should be done with the appropriate input and information as to the entirety of the higher education programs subject to regulation,” Malloy wrote in his veto message.
The third bill would have required school districts to expunge from a school employee’s personnel file any records related to abuse or neglect if they are unsubstantiated.
“I understand and share the concerns regarding the impact of complaints against a teacher that are found to be unsubstantiated,” Malloy wrote. “However, this legislation is overly broad.”
He said “protecting teachers from unsubstantiated allegations is a valid and important issue, but any protections must be balanced against the protection of the children in our care.”
This session, Malloy has vetoed four bills and signed 147.
Elizabeth Regan contributed to this report.