And so it begins…

Cross-posted on Pelto’s Point (New Haven Advocate)

When Governor Malloy submitted his Connecticut State Budget proposal in February it included $1 billion dollars in employee concessions for FY 12 and another billion for FY 13.

Those who appreciate the realities of how Connecticut’s budget works recognized immediately that such a figure was not achievable.   There was simply no way that $1 billion dollars in employee savings could be achieved in one fiscal year.

Malloy Walks the Picket Line

The question was and remains today – why would the Governor propose a budget that he knew was destined to be as much as $500 million or more out of balance?

Sadly, the clues were immediate.

At the time, Malloy said that “if” the concessions were not forthcoming, but he was confident that they would be achieved, he would be forced to lay off thousands and shred the State’s safety net.  He was very clear.  The blame for this catastrophe would rest solely on the heads of Connecticut’s state employees.

And now the next phase in this drama has begun…

On Friday, the CT Mirror ran a story entitled “Municipal aid is at stake in Malloy’s talks with labor

The story leads with a quote from Malloy’s top advisor Roy Occhiogrosso, who said “All the assumptions will have to be re-examined, because he is committed to producing a balanced budget with no gimmicks, and if the savings don’t materialize there are only so many places to go for money…Municipal aid is one of those places.”

Faced with the inevitable failure to pull $1 billion dollars out of Connecticut’s state employees, the Malloy administration is now ramping up their rhetoric. 

As a result of their inability to produce $1 billion in concessions, state employees will now not only be responsible for putting many of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens at risk, but we are now learning that aid to cities and towns will be cut and the corresponding local property taxes increases that will be needed will be another tribute the state employees’s failure to produce the appropriate savings.

Yet the Malloy Administration has never admitted that the number they are demanding from Connecticut’s state employees is “almost double what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo obtained from his much larger work force.”

And even worse, although the Malloy Administration says it has a detailed concession plan that amounts to $1 billion dollars they refuse to make their “secret plan” public.

Although rank and file state employees seem almost unanimously committed to doing their fair share to balance Connecticut’s budget, few – if any – understand the extent to which they have been set up to fail.

This is a dark time for Connecticut’s state employees and it will get darker in the coming days as the Malloy Administration announces with ‘”surprise” that the $1 billion dollars in concessions cannot be achieved.

  • I concur with your thesis. I am a State worker. I have been for 30 years. I waited patiently for 20 years for a Democrat to be elected. This is the last thing I expected. I voted for Malloy. Thus far……he comes off as more of a used car salesman than a Governor.

    I hope I am wrong.

  • ishka

    As a union member,this sounded “fishy” from the start. Because of the stress senior employees were feeling the state has a record number of people able to retire putting in for retirement. The unions with a nod and a wink told them they don’t need to do this. The unobtainable goal of 2 billion in concessions, added with the possibility of cutting the saftey net is looking more like the original plan. i would say that aid to towns and cities will be cut and the blame will fall on John Rowland and the unions for signing the 20 year sebac contract. My union in conversation with the media only have said no to concessions, but the union stands firmly that they have not even discussed concessions with Mr. Ojakian, but have only discussed cost cutting ideas. I am surprised that Mr. Pelto is the only one reporting this since all the information is on the union websites. On face the state yesterday, Senator Williams said he believed the 2 billion mark was obtainable. i was surprised that Dennis House did not follow up with” the unions are firmly rejecting concessions, how do you think the 2 billion mark can be reached?” Union concessions have to be voted on and counted. The unions would have to have a ballot very soon (this week) if there is to be concessions by the Governor’s deadline. personally I don’t think it is coming.It does seem silly that the general assembly is going to wait for the unions to vote in early May to start their budget. Another belief I have is that most union members understand the fiscal problems and could have offered concessions, but this request of 2 billion has turned even the most reasonable union members against any concessions all together. i am saying it was a blunder by Governor Malloy by showing such disrespect to the members.

    • jonpelto

      Ishka, I think you are right (come to think of it, I think you are right on virtually everthing you post). I need check out the Face the State piece – wonder why williams would say something like that at this point …

  • The inability to gain 1 billion equate to no concessions whatsoever. With all due respect Mr. Pelto, your opinion in this article seems to infer the statement above. Failure in concession negotiations equating to $0 concessions and the 2 billion is going to be found in layoffs, or elsewhere, is a baffling conclusion. If the above statement is not your intention in the article then my sincerest apologies.

    Although I do agree finding at least a partial scapegoat does work better. You wouldn’t see any governor blaming the entire populous for cuts to aid with a line like: “You don’t want higher taxes? Fine, we’ll cut welfare and safety net programs. The fate of poor/poor families and the elderly are on all your backs as well as mine.”

    And I don’t think it is disrespect to the unions Ishka, though I agree the concessions were a bit too lofty. Instead the strategy went in for concessions similar to a car dealer at the final stages of selling. The administration has been going to get the sale and will get a sale, but they’ll write 1 billion a year (knowing its a bloated quote) and then hand it to the unions. The unions come back and say ‘200 mil’. And so on until a compromise is met to find cost cutting solutions and concessions (shortened work weeks, increased payments into health plans, etc) .

  • Kay

    I wonder if Governor Malloy is prepared to deal with more housing foreclosures if the State workforce is cut by 10 percent, or if the salaries of the State employees are cut by 10 percent in addition to furlough days, higher taxes and the incredible high cost of living in Connecticut due to our electricity costs, fuel costs, and even food costs compared to other states.
    And, it won’t be just families who own houses who lose their homes, but those who rent may lose their homes which would also cause the landlords to lose money.
    I wonder how many citizens who think that State employees are so wealthy that they could weather such reductions in their living conditions, are going to deal with their own lower property values?
    Not all State employees make the $100,00.00 a year that it takes to raise a family of 4 in this state and sometimes that is even not enough. Some State employees make $40,000, $50,000, or $60,000. and some even lower. The food stamp line will grow longer, the emergency room visits for those without insurance will grow larger, and of course unemployment payments will increase.
    Just how does Malloy expect to make a difference with increasing taxes as anyone who can find a job in another state will?
    Am I missing something in this whole budget plan of his? Or maybe he is dyslexic with numbers also!

    • denise

      I agree…..I happen to be one of those state employees who earn less than 55k a year..
      ..I commute 5 days a week…..gas prices increase daily….been with state for less than 5 yrs……got hit with concessions in 09…(furloughs…increase in medical…..retirement health fund?)mom of 2… has over 173k……child who requires monthly meds……barely making ends meet….and I do mean BARELY…. what more is there left to give?