We publish, as released, the remarks made by Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas in vetoing, for the second time, the contract with the Manchester Education Association. ~Publis
It’s clear that it’s an election year.
It’s unfortunate and disappointing that this discussion has become embroiled in election year politics. But, just because it’s an election year doesn’t give me, the Mayor, a free pass to succumb to difficult choices.
Just because there’s an election doesn’t give me, the Mayor, a free pass to make the easy choice – over the right choice.
There’s a word for this, and it’s not leadership.
I have heard from and listened to teachers. I have heard from and listened to parents. I have heard from and listened to the taxpayers.
I see the teachers in the audience this evening and I applaud them for what they do for the students of this city. Tomorrow is the first day of school and I do not question your desire or dedication to teach the students in Manchester and provide them with the best education.
I believe that you are deserving of a raise. I do believe that. However, I have to take all factors into consideration.
In the Manchester School District there are six unions. One union, MESPA, has been out of contract for the same two years as the MEA. The other four have contracts that are expiring at the conclusion of this school year. Just in time for the next budget – another 31% of the district employees will be out of contract.
In the city there are thirteen city unions that are without a long-term contract. The policemen are without a long-term contract. The firefighters are without a long-term contract. The highway workers are without a long-term contract. Right now over 1100 employees on the city-side are frozen in their steps and benefits. Just in time for the next budget the long-term contract needs for 100% of city employees needs to be addressed.
Given these considerations I am left with two questions: The first, how do we afford the contract before us? The second, how do we afford the contract before us, and, everything else?
If the answer is we will find a way – you are not being honest– however you look at the numbers, it can’t be done unless you override the tax cap.
There are 19 unions that are without long-term contracts. So what do we say? Sorry, not this year. That’s not good faith negotiations.
And then, there’s the taxpayers. Manchester voted twice, to limit spending in this city. Is there no consideration?
I understand there’s a backroom conversation going on about getting through the election and then overriding the tax cap in a non-election year. Let’s be honest with everyone – all the employees of the city and the taxpayers.
I can not support a contract that I know will require an override of the taxcap or cause unimaginable alternatives.
The city charter does not give authority to the Mayor to present a budget with the presumption of a tax cap override. Instead, as Mayor of this city I will do as I have always done. Take everything I know as it is presented to me and see how each choice, each decision affects the end result and see if there is balance.
As your Mayor I will stand on my principles and make the right choice for the school district, the city – and the taxpayers. There’s no place for politics in this discussion and where anyone is at in the election cycle should never matter either.
Therefore, at this time, I respectfully veto the ratification of the tentative agreement between the Manchester School District and the Manchester Education Association.