(CBS Connecticut) — Teachers unions, education groups, an association of towns, and officials from West Hartford today criticized the governor’s proposal to shift $400-million in teacher’s pension expenses from the state to cities and towns.

Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Director Bob Rader says the change would lead to larger class sizes and cuts in staff.

“The people who ensure that children don’t fall through the cracks [will be cut]. Programs will be eliminated, foreign languages will be eliminated,” Rader said.

The groups say the governor’s proposal will force cities and towns to increase property taxes.

“Cost shift plans would wreck havoc with local budgets, and lead to higher local property taxes, and reduced funding,” said Connecticut Education Association President Sheila Cohen.

They view the proposal as an effort to use the local property tax to close the state’s budget deficit.

But Governor Dannel Malloy says it is fair to have the local school districts that hire teachers to cover some of their retirement costs.

The governor is seeking to use the change to help eliminate a $1.6-billion state deficit.

Opponents of the proposal paid for a survey that they say shows how unpopular it is.

“I can assure you that at the end of the day, our budget is going to look a lot different from the governor’s budget,” West Hartford Representative Joe Verrengia said. “This is not the direction we should be going in, and it is not a direction that a lot of my colleagues in the house would want to embrace in any way.”


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