Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Plan B Lifts Off

Governor Dannel Malloy today announced “After more than two months of talks, I'm afraid that my administration and the state employee unions have not reached agreement. Our talks have been respectful and forthright so far, and I remain willing to continue the discussions if the unions are willing to do so. However, we must all be willing to work toward a settlement that Connecticut taxpayers can afford in the long run.”

Negotiations between the governor’s office and union leaders were not entirely leak proof. There were indications that the talks had been going no where, but no one was willing to speak on the record. The sticking point from the union side was that negotiators were unwilling to succumb to the size of the givebacks, said to be $20,000 per year per state worker.

In the absence of an agreement – really more a capitulation than an agreement – Mr. Malloy announced today that lay off notices would be sent out immediately:

“I have directed OPM to begin issuing layoff notices in an orderly fashion to the first 4,742 state employees. Those layoffs will result in savings of approximately $455 million. I've also directed OPM to begin the process necessary to cut an additional $545 million in spending; those cuts, many of them programmatic, will be spread across state government, and will, in all likelihood, result in additional layoffs.

"I want to be clear that this is not the road I wanted to go down. I didn't want to lay people off, and I didn't want to make additional spending cuts beyond the $780 million in spending we've already cut.

"But I have no choice. I promised the people of Connecticut that I would change the way we do business in Hartford. I promised to deliver a budget that is balanced with no gimmicks, and I will.”
In his press release, Mr. Malloy said that the savings he hoped to realize in his negotiations with union leaders were “predicated on two principles: we need to achieve the short-term savings necessary to balance this budget, and we need long-term, structural savings in order to make state government sustainable. To do so, I am attempting to bring the benefits enjoyed by state employees -- wages, healthcare, and pension benefits -- more in line with those enjoyed by their counterparts in the private sector and in the federal workforce."

The talks likely stalled on benefit package reforms as well.

In response to Mr. Malloy’s most recent announcement, the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition this morning posted the following statement on its website:

"The discussions have been extraordinarily complex and demand our continued efforts to find mutual resolution.

"SEBAC is disappointed the administration has decided to begin issuing layoff notices. We have said time and again that laying off workers, whether in the public or private sector, and slashing vital public services will prove disastrous to our shared goal of creating jobs and rebuilding the middle class - especially at a time when our 9.1% unemployment rate is already higher than the national average.”

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