UPDATE 2: The following email was sent to Harford County Education Association members Friday night from President Randy Cerveny regarding County Executive David Craig’s line item veto of bonus payment to Harford County Public Schools:
This morning, the Labor Board heard arguments regarding what funds should be subject to renegotiations. During the hearing, we were blindsided by the County Executive’s announced threat to veto legislation overwhelmingly approved by the County Council to provide additional funding for Harford County educators. This is a bill that HCEA worked with the County Council to amend so that the money could be moved to the Board of Education (BOE) to be properly negotiated. This money was given to the BOE by the decisivevote of the County Council. Craig has chosen not to support the consensus between the County Council and the unions and is single handedly holding your money hostage. Please contact County Executive Craig 410.638.3350, CountyExecutive@harfordcountymd.gov and ask him to support the amended bill as proposed by the Council so that teachers can get the money they deserve.
In response, HCEA has released the following press release:
Harford County Educators Condemn David Craig’s “Illegal Power Grab” and “Race to Take Harford County Public Schools to the Bottom”
December 16, 2011, Bel Air, MD…Harford County Executive David Craig’s threat to veto legislation overwhelmingly approved by the County Council to provide additional funding for Harford County educators is one more example of Craig’s reckless race to take Harford County Public Schools to the bottom, the Harford County Education Association announced today.
“The County Executive is attempting an illegal power grab, usurping the Board of Education’s authority and violating state law and the rights of school system employees and state and local agencies. Our public schools, hardworking educators, and state law are all being victimized by his stunning display of overreach,” said HCEA President Randy Cerveny.
“An extremely dangerous precedent could be set if the County Executive is permitted to begin enacting line item vetoes on items in the public school budget. What’s next? Will David Craig eliminate funding for high school sports that he doesn’t enjoy? Or for after school programs that he doesn’t deem important? Will he begin eliminating books from the English curriculum? What one man could withhold from our students and classrooms is incredibly troubling,” said Cerveny.
HCEA’s continued opposition to Craig’s power grab is rooted in his blatant attempt to circumvent the rights of educators, county residents, the school board, and the county council. “HCEA is committed to securing money for our teachers and defending their rights,” said Cerveny. “We want to make sure that our teachers receive every cent of the money, especially as the instructional salaries category in our budget continues to drop, decreasing by nearly 4% this year. But, we cannot allow the County Executive to get away with an illegal end run around state law that would set a precedent for the County Executive not funding our collective bargaining agreements and instead funding items in our public school budget purely at the County Executive’s discretion. It’s wrong, it’s not how the law works, and our schools will suffer if David Craig continues down this ill-conceived, self-serving path,” continued Cerveny.
“We’re taking a stand to defend all employees’ collective bargaining rights,” said Cerveny. “If we allow David Craig to get away with his illegal power grab this year and in this county, then it could happen every year and in every county. And if that happens, it will be to the detriment of educators, school systems, and students throughout the state.”
UPDATE 1: Harford County Public Schools sent the following message to employees today indicating that a one-time payment for all employees, except for those represented by the Harford County Education Association, had already been processed before County Executive David Craig announced a veto of the necessary funding.
“Below you will find a press release distributed this morning by County Executive David R. Craig. The release states that the County Executive has exercised his right to veto the legislation approved by the County Council that would have funded the school system’s appropriation for the one-time stipend of $625. However, as previously agreed, the payroll for the stipend had already been processed through direct deposit or a physical check for your use prior to the County Executive’s announcement. Those employees represented by APSASHC, HCESC, AFSCME, and AHCATSP, as well as *excluded employees, are receiving the stipend at this time.
*Excluded employees are those employees who are excluded from a bargaining unit due to the nature of their job function within the school system.”
Asked where the bonus money will come from now and who authorized payments of county funds that had not yet been recevied, Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for HCPS provided the following response:
“The payment was authorized by the County Council approving the legislation for the stipend. Typically, we disburse funds and the county reimburses the school system after the fact. Payroll processes the disbursement two days in advance for those employees who receive direct deposit as it takes time to hit all accounts. As we have just received this information, we will have to work out the details of funding.”
From Harford County government:
Harford County Executive Craig Issues Line Item Veto; Removes One-Time Pay Bonus for Board of Education Employees
Harford County Executive David R. Craig has issued the following statement regarding his use of a line item veto on fund appropriations legislative bill 11-54, As Amended, which was passed by the Harford County Council on December 13.
“In light of recent statements issued by the Harford County Education Association (HCEA), and its intent to subvert actions of this administration and the County Council to issue a one-time bonus to Harford County Government and Board of Education employees, I will be exercising power granted to me by Section 311 of the Harford County Charter to issue a line item veto on Bill 11-54 As Amended to strike the fund appropriation to the Board of Education.
“HCEA’s attempt to hijack this fund appropriation to support its case before the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board in an effort to secure the unfunded recurring salary increase previously negotiated with the Board of Education places the county in a financially unsustainable position that I cannot support at this time.
“Upon resolution of the matter before the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board, I will decide with the County Council whether to re-introduce legislation to restore funding for a true one-time bonus to Board of Education employees. It was my intention during the outset of this proposal that this be a one-time non-recurring expense, and that all employees be treated equally.
“As a 34 year educator and a former member of HCEA, I am deeply disappointed in its leadership and their efforts to co-opt this legislation. I applaud the other Harford County Government and Board of Education unions on their leadership, collaboration, and cooperation in recognizing the true intent of this bonus proposal. I am dismayed that a simple act of providing employees with a holiday bonus has been perverted for political gain at the expense of Harford County taxpayers and Board of Education employees.
“I look forward to being able to pass a bill for the Board of Education which will not become a union exhibit in a Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board case, and hope that this issue can be put behind us so that bonuses can be issued to Board of Education employees as was intended.”
The Line Item Veto does not affect bonus payments to Harford County Government Employees, Sheriff’s Office employees, or employees of the Harford County Public Libraries.