Judge Rejects Delay, Moves Education Financing Lawsuit Forward
Hartford Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay rejected the state’s request to delay arguments in a landmark education financing lawsuit until after the November election.
Dubay concluded that the case should move forward even though he gave himself more time to think about whether the trial should start in July or whether it should start in September after his three-week vacation.
The rejection of the modification was the second ruling against the state in less than two months.
The Attorney General’s office, which sought to modify the trial date and is defending the state in the case, declined comment following Dubay’s decision.
The executive director of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a coalition of cities and towns that sued the state in 2005 for failing to adequately fund education, said that the judge did the right thing Thursday.
“The state sought to delay this trial by another 16 months, so as to wait out the November gubernatorial election and then have another go at trying to moot out the case,” Dianne Kaplan deVries, executive director of CCJEF, said. “Yet next year there would have been still another motion seeking to delay the trial. No more excuses: it’s time for trial.”
In December, Dubay also rejected the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
For the past four years, ever since the Supreme Court sided in a 4-3 decision with the plaintiff’s in 2010, motions have been filed back and forth. In 2011, another judge set a scheduling order, which dictated when the case would go to trial. Under that order the trial was set to begin in July 2014.
“Quite simply I think the parties would have to agree with me that there’s been a lack of compliance with that scheduling order,” Dubay said Thursday.
“Any order that I enter today does not excuse any non-compliance with the prior court’s order,” he said. “Indeed, depending upon what the parties file there may be ramifications for non-compliance with past court orders.”
Attorney’s for the coalition told the court Thursday that they will be ready for trial in six months.
“We just need to set a realistic schedule and get this case tried,” Megan Bannigan, an attorney for CCJEF, said.
She said the case can be tried in July and it’s their view that the state has been “dragging their feet on discovery, but we have almost six months.”
She said some of the plaintiffs have been waiting nine years, while others have aged out of the case already.
The state continues to argue that the $100 million in additional education funding in fiscal year 2013 and the $137 million in additional education funding in 2014, along with a 1,000 new preschool slots—it’s doing enough to fund education and meet its constitutional mandate. The plaintiff’s continue to argue that even with the additional resources, Connecticut’s schools are woefully underfunded.