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Wait, What? They took that money too?

by Jon Pelto from Wait, What

It was created in 2007 as a way to fund education technology programs in Connecticut public schools and help develop public oriented local and state cable programming.

Its short-form name was the State Account for Community Access and Educational Technology. In fact, its official title was the “public, educational and governmental programming and education technology investment account.”

The account and its programs are funded by one of the taxes on your cable bill, and each year, the funds are legally deposited into a separate, non-lapsing account.

In fact, there is an extra 0. 25 percent gross earnings tax on your cable or satellite service bill.

Connecticut’s public utility regulators are required to put the funds into the separate account. Then they must distribute half of the funds to local boards of education or other public education entities to fund educational technology programs, while giving the other half to “local cable TV and video advisory councils; state-wide cable TV and video advisory councils; public, educational and governmental programmers and public, educational and governmental studio operators.”

Then came Section 29 of this week’s Deficit Mitigation legislation and the $3,600,000 that was in the “public, educational and government programming and education technology investment account” was slid over the Connecticut General Fund.

The problem with these types of provisions is that you have to actually look up what program is being hit. For example, Section 29 of this week’s bill actually read, “(Effective from passage) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 16-331cc of the general statutes, the sum of $3,600,000 shall be transferred from the public, educational and governmental programming and education technology investment account and credited to the resources of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.”

In English, this means that $3.6 million is moved from its home in the separate, targeted fund and put into the General Fund for this fiscal year.

If you didn’t know what the account was actually used for, you might not fully appreciate what you were voting to cut.

Perhaps even more importantly, since the bill doesn’t identify how much money is actually available in the account, you wouldn’t know that, in this case, as in the case of the seat belt fund discussed yesterday, the Governor and Legislature took ALL THE FUNDS available in the account.

One wonders whether schools even know that an important source of education technology programming just disappeared.

The same could be said about the people in charge of local cable TV programming. Do they realize their share of the $3.6 million is gone?