Governor Dannel Malloy must have been singing the children’s song “Roll Over, Roll Over,” because it appears that Democrats in the Connecticut State Senate and House of Representatives will return to Hartford today to “fix” a bad state budget by making it worse.
As the CT Mirror reported on Friday,
“The House and Senate will return Monday at 10 a.m. for what the leaders hope will be a one-day special session to pass budget revisions and implementer bills, a bond package and two criminal justice measures.”
In an effort to appease big business, the changes to the budget include another $25 million in health care cuts to Connecticut’s poorest residents and a $25 million in cuts from an “undisclosed list” of government services and programs.
Among the most bizarre maneuvers is an effort to screw state employees by predetermining the outcome of next year’s state contract negotiations, unless of course, it is just a ruse to make it look like a cut when, in fact, they intend to put the money back in to the budget in the 2017.
As CT Mirror explained,
“House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said the bill also would reduce salary reserve funding in the second year of the biennium, a nudge to the administration to obtain concessions in coming contract negotiations.
“We are setting a direction to the governor as to what we’d like to see in terms of concessions, so to speak, in year two when he negotiates those contracts,” Sharkey said.”
According to the CT Mirror,
“With these changes, overall tax hikes in the new, two-year budget would drop from $1.5 billion to just over $1.3 billion. The new budget also cancels close to $500 million in previously approved tax cuts that were supposed to be implemented in the coming biennium.”
Under both the “old” and “new” budget plan, the state will continue to implement record budget cuts to a variety of vital state programs and services.
In addition, although the legislature’s original tax plan added a minor bump in the income tax rate for the super-rich; both the original and revised versions of the state budget continue Governor Malloy’s long-standing commitment to coddle Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers by refusing to require them to pay their fair share in income taxes.
On another front, the “new” state budget continues to send the vast majority of the new money for nursing home care to those facilities that are unionized rather than the long-standing approach which treated residents of long-term care facilities the same – regardless of whether they are living in unionized or non-unionized nursing homes.
The decision to favor the unionized facilities raises serious legal issues which are being reported by CT Newsjunkie in an article entitled, Association Says Nursing Home Allocation Violates Federal Law.
The state’s largest association of skilled nursing facilities says the way lawmakers are planning to distribute funds to nursing homes violates federal law.
The Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities warned Sunday night in a statement that distributing $9 million to raise wages in 60 unionized nursing homes and only $4 million to 170 non-unionized skilled nursing facilities is “blatantly unfair and discriminatory to the non-union workers who do the exact same work as the union workers with the same Connecticut taxpayer money.”
Matthew Barrett, executive vice president of the association, said nursing homes in Connecticut are overwhelmingly non-union with only 30 percent associated with organized labor.
That means non-union workers would see overall wages increase 0.75 percent, while unionized nursing homes would receive a 5.5 percent increase. According to Barrett this amounts to a 10 cent raise for non-union workers, and an 80 cent raise for union workers — eight times the increase non-union workers would receive.
Barrett warned that if lawmakers approve the allocation they are putting at risk federal matching funds for $1.2 billion in Medicaid nursing home expenditures.
Legislative leaders Friday said they put an additional $1 million into the budget for non-union homes, bringing the wage increase funding for those homes up to $4 million.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Friday that they were giving an additional $1 million to the non-union homes to “provide a little bit more equity.”
Barrett said there’s well-established case law that doesn’t allow for this type of inequity to exist between union and non-union homes.
For more about the “new” state budget read;
CT Mirror at http://ctmirror.org/2015/06/26/democrats-whittle-down-future-town-aid-to-cut-business-taxes-now/ and CT Newsjunkie at http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/democrats_roll_back_raises_for_state_employees_increase_money_for_hospitals/