Among the most disturbing elements of the debate surrounding Connecticut’s state budget crisis is the silence on the part of most Democratic state legislators about the ill-conceived layoffs being perpetrated by Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and the their administration.
A “throw them to the wolves” mentality might not be surprising from those who hate public employees and the existence of public services, but the public, the people who rely on state services, the impacted state employees and their families deserve better from those who call themselves Democrats.
Hundreds of state employees have already been laid off. When Team Malloy/Wyman are done with round #1, the families thrown onto the unemployment line and into chaos will exceed 2,500.
The new “super-secret” compromise budget agreement developed by legislative leaders and the governor that will be voted on in the upcoming special session will lead to hundreds and hundreds of additional layoffs of state employees.
And from the vast majority of Democratic state legislators we hear nothing but silence.
Laying off these more junior public employees is not good public policy, it is not a mechanism to bring about structural change in government and it certainly doesn’t help address Connecticut’s long-term state employee pension problem.
Real structural change comes from identifying more effective ways to deliver services, eliminating services that are not needed and implementing strategies to address unfunded pension and healthcare costs.
Malloy’s helter-skelter layoffs serve none of those solutions.
The state employee layoffs are NOT related to ensuring critical state services are provided more efficiently and effectively
The state employee layoffs are NOT related to eliminating services that are not needed
And the state employee layoffs are certainly NOT the mechanism for addressing the long-term obligations the state has due to it negligent failure to properly fund its long-term pension and health care costs. In fact, laying off employees who belong to the Tier IIA and Tier III pension programs actually makes the funding of pension and healthcare costs even worse.
State legislators know – or better know – that more than 80% of the present pension fund crisis is the result of the unfunded costs for state employees who were enrolled in the Tier I pension program. Enrollment in Tier I ended in 1985 and about 97% of Tier I employees have already retired.
Putting aside the reality that it is illegal to change the pension program for those who have already retired, laying off state employees who are paying into the pension and health care funds actually undermine the effort to put the pension and healthcare fund on proper financial footing.
No legislator, Democrat or Republican, who actually understands how services are provided and the massive fiscal challenges that face Connecticut should be supporting Malloy’s unstructured state employee layoff effort – even those who support reducing the number of state employees and the level of services provided in Connecticut.
But the burden to speak up, to tell the truth, and to address issues related to reducing the number of state employees falls heaviest on the Democrats. Not only are the Democrats in control of the executive and legislative branches of state government, but they have the historical and social relationship with public employees and their unions.
The failure of so many democratic legislators to publicly speak out about the Malloy/Wyman anti-public employee policies – policies that hurt Connecticut – is a sad commentary and one that voters should consider well when voting.