13 of Malloy’ Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners receive longevity payments

When it came to extra money in the state paycheck this month, most of the Connecticut news coverage related to the 21 Board of Regents employees who received illegal pay raises.

However, although state employees are going another year without any pay raise, longevity payments were made as part of the Malloy-SEBAC State Employee Agreement.

Among the recipients were thirteen (13) of Malloy’s commissioners and deputy commissioners.  In two cases, commissioners collected longevity payments of $5,600.  Remember that these longevity checks are issued twice a year, so those two commissioners actually received $11,200, this year, in addition to six figure incomes.  The average longevity payment for the thirteen commissioners and deputy commissioners was $3,500 this month.

To those that complain about the state employee unions, note that there were 163 non-unionized employees who received longevity payments in excess of $4,000, while there were only 4 unionized employees in that range – all four being unionized, non-faculty professionals with the Connecticut State University System.

For those state employees with at least ten years of state service, the average unionized employee received a check for $459, while the average non-unionized employee got more than 4 times that amount, collecting an extra $1,909 as a longevity payment, on average.

The Governor’s Chief of Staff received a longevity bonus of $4,800, while one of the Governor’s top legislative advisers collected an extra $1,800.

A total of 52 elected and appointed state officials received longevity checks this month, sharing an average of over $2,600 or nearly 6 times more than the average unionized employees.

Considering that this year’s state budget is already in deficit, why the Governor didn’t, at least, demand his commissioners, deputy commissioners and personal staff forgo their longevity payments is a bit of a mystery.

Last bipartisan legislative call for a resignation – was about John Rowland.

The latest development in the “Regent-gate” situation was the press conference yesterday afternoon in which the Democratic and Republican leaders of the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee demanded the resignation of Robert Kennedy, the President of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

Meanwhile Kennedy continued to apologize and claim that he had mistakenly authorized pay raises for 21 members of the Board of Regent’s executive staff, despite the fact that the new law creating the Board of Regent system is absolutely clear that only the full Board has the authority to approve compensation issues.

Governor Malloy, who recruited Mr. Kennedy, also blasted him at various points yesterday, but did not demand that he be fired, nor did he call for his resignation.

The Board of Regents has a previously scheduled board meeting at 2:30 p.m. today where one would expect that issue to be added to the agenda.

While the bi-partisan call was only targeted at Mr. Kennedy, Republican leader John McKinney also demanded the resignation of Michael Meotti, the Executive Vice President for the Board of Regents.

A week ago, the CTMirror broke the news that Meotti had received a $49,000 pay raise this year, despite a prohibition on any pay raises as part of the Malloy-SEBAC state employee agreement.

This week the controversy spread dramatically when it was discovered that a total of 21 employees of the Board of Regents had received pay raises totally about $300,000 a year.

To date, State Representative Roberta Willis is the only Democratic leader to demand that the Board of Regents also, “look at Meotti and his role” in the decision to hand out the raises.

Considering that a number of senior administrators at the Board of Regents are experienced in Connecticut law, it is inconceivable that Mr. Kennedy could have made the decision without the input and advice of his leadership team.

Considering Meotti was a popular former Democratic State Senator and a close ally and friend of both Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman, it’s not surprising that most Democrats would be hesitant to publicly demand the investigation be expanded to include people beyond Mr. Kennedy.

As the Courant article noted, as late as Wednesday night, it appeared that Governor Malloy and the Chairman of the Board of Regents were positioning themselves to accept Kennedy’s apology, but stand by him.

However, the unexpected and particularly strong statements coming from the Higher Education Committee, and the growing recognition that the law related to pay raises for employees of the Board of Regents was very clear, the overall tone on Thursday changed and it has become increasingly clear that Kennedy’s level of support is quickly eroding.

One of the strangest developments, to date, was the attempt by Andrew McDonald; the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, to claim that the decision as to whether Kennedy should stay or go was really out of the Governor’s hands and that Governor Malloy could only recommend the Board of Regents investigate and take action if appropriate.

Apparently Attorney McDonald was not asked or reminded that Governor Malloy did not only recruit Mr. Kennedy, but he appointed 9 of the 15 members of the Board of Regents.  In addition, there are five ex-officio members of the Board, all of whom serve as Malloy’s commissioners to various state agencies.

Those who enjoy betting on the odds might do well to put their money on an announcement later today that Mr. Kennedy has decided to resign, so that, “the powers that be,” can focus all of their attention on protecting the other senior employees at the Board of Regents, including Mr. Meotti.

You know that whole “Ignorance of the Law” thing?

Well, it turns out the concept is voluntary, at least for Robert Kennedy, the President of the Board of Regents, and his senior staff.

The CTMirror and Hartford Courant have now added a blockbuster piece of news to the controversy surrounding the $300,000 in raises that were given out to employees who work in the executive offices of the Board of Regents.

According to the news reports, Robert Kennedy, whose salary is $350,000, plus a performance bonus, authorized 21 raises, despite the fact that the Malloy-SEBAC deal eliminated pay raises for all (other) state employees.

In addition, Kennedy and his team are now admitting that they unilaterally gave out the raises, rather than have the full Board of Regents vote on them, as required by law.

As the CTMirror notes, Kennedy is telling reporters that he “mistakenly” authorized the raises, and claiming that he was unaware that the law creating his new agency only allows the full Board of Regents to “establish terms and conditions of employment of its staff, prescribe their duties and fix the compensation of its professional and technical personnel.”

Kennedy explained, “I approved them mistakenly thinking I had the authority to do so.”

But, apparently “bowing” to the legal requirement, the full Board of Regents will meet tomorrow to address the matter.  According to Kennedy, “If they felt they were inappropriate, they can rescind them.”

And in the meantime?

Kennedy says the raises will stay in place.

Wait, what?  The illegal raises will stay in place unless and until the Board of Regents rescinds them?

And here we thought illegal meant, well… illegal.

But in the world made up by the new Board of Regents, one would say to the police officer; “I think I’ll just hold on to these illegal drugs until a judge orders that they be taken away.  And in the meantime, I’ll just keep using them.”

Explaining how the mistake was made, the communication department of the agency in charge of Connecticut’s State Universities and State Colleges released a statement that read;

“In many cases, those duties are delegated to the chief executive officer. In this case, President Kennedy approved the salary adjustments and the Board of Regents … will review and determine the appropriateness of all personnel salary adjustments that were made on the basis of additional duties, responsibilities, and roles assigned resulting from the consolidation.”

The Governor’s Office also seemed to brush off the illegal action.  Governor Malloy’s spokesman was quoted by the CTMirror as saying, “It’s clear there is a process in place, and that process was not followed.  They are taking steps to address it.”

And the Governor himself was quoted, in the same article, as having said on WTIC radio, “The Regents’ system needs to run itself, but it needs to run itself well and be accountable to the public. And I think this thing is going to turn out OK,”

Apparently no one reminded the Governor that it was he who had appointed Robert Kennedy and that nine of the nine of the fifteen voting members of the Board of Regents were appointed by him to serve on that Board.

As to how illegal raises could possibly be allowed to stay in place until the Board of Regents votes one way or the other, the CTMirror also reported that, “State Attorney General George Jepsen declined to take sides. A statement from his office said it ‘has not been involved in this matter and there are insufficient facts at this time to offer any view on whether laws were violated.’”

So let the word go forth from this place that Ignorantia juris non excusat (sometimes known as “ignorance of the law does not excuse”) need not apply when it comes to the man Governor Malloy appointed to head Connecticut’s new Board of Regents system.

For the latest go to CTMirror: https://www.ctmirror.org/story/17687/higher-education-chief-mistakenly-ordered-22-executive-raises-without-board-approval

Hartford Courant: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-regents-salaries-1010-20121009,0,3886105.story

ALERT/UPDATE: Arbitrator rules against Malloy Administration on significant retirement issue

Yesterday, I posted this blog about rumors spreading that the Malloy Administration has lost a massive arbitration ruling concerning the retirement incentive that was offered to some but not all state employees.  The details remain confusing.  An arbitration award or awards have certainly been made that require the state and SEBAC to negotiate and action to be taken by the State Retirement Commission.  I will update as details become available.   What is clear is that according to State employees knowledgeable  about the situation, there are employees who should have been given the opportunity to utilize retirement incentives, but were not given that opportunity and the problem must now be rectified.

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Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, word is spreading that the Malloy Administration has lost a massive arbitration ruling today.

Last summer, the Connecticut State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) filed a grievance against the Malloy Administration with the Connecticut Board of Labor Relations.

The complaint revolved around the Malloy Administration’s unilateral decision to
offer to certain employees the ability to retire with 25 years of service regardless of age.”  According to labor unions, Malloy’s representatives made this offer without fulfilling their bargaining responsibility with SEBAC and without making it available to all state employees.

At the time, SEBAC challenged Malloy’s action because it was;

“(1) Unfair to employees who learned about them, because it forced those employees to make a critical life-changing decision without full information or the opportunity to change their minds; and

(2) Unfair to the vast majority of employees, who management never informed about the offer at all and thus were never given any opportunity to decide.”

Union leaders demanded that the offer be made available to all eligible state employees and that employees be given an adequate time frame to make a decision.

The Malloy Administration refused and filed a State Prohibitive Practice complaint.

Apparently, earlier today, an arbitrator ruled against the Malloy Administration.

If true, the state may now be forced to negotiate a process to give all employees the ability to retire, regardless of age, as long as they have at least 25 years of service.

There are also rumors that the Malloy Administration lost on a second major issue related to the fact that it gave managers longevity bonuses when unionized employees went without those payments.

Stay tuned – more to come.

Oh and meanwhile – there is that whole budget deficit thing…

In less than ninety days, the state’s fiscal year (FY12) will come to an end.  The day will mark the completion of Governor Malloy’s first fiscal year budget.

We sometimes forget that when Dan Malloy was sworn in as Governor Dannel Malloy back in January 2011, the state was functioning under a budget developed by Governor Rell and the Democrats in the Legislature.

It wasn’t until July 1, 2011 that Governor Malloy’s first state budget took effect. The “Fog of Time” probably clouds our recollection, but some will remember that Governor Malloy came into office facing an upcoming budget short-fall of more than $3 billion dollars.

After $1.5 million in new taxes, significant budgets cuts and a Malloy/SEBAC state employee agreement that included a wage freeze, changes in health benefits and a variety of other “projected cost savings”, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law a budget that purportedly contained a surplus.

Now with three months left in the fiscal year, Gov. Malloy and his budget chief, Ben Barnes, continue to hold on to their fantasy that the state presently has a small surplus.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis is predicting the state budget will end $120 million in the red – assuming that the Malloy administration follows through on its promise if allocate $75 million in a first step toward shifting the state to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles GAAP).

For the past nine months, Connecticut Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo has been in a difficult position.  As Connecticut’s fiscal watchdog he has the obligation to put politics aside and report the actual state of affairs when it comes to Connecticut’s budget.

On the other hand, we’ve all seen that the Malloy administration is not only thin-skinned but quick to bully and assault anyone who criticizes them, even when the criticism is fair and accurate.

With that background, Lembo has done an impressive job giving Malloy’s budget projections the benefit of the doubt while still articulating the growing reality that will face Connecticut as the fiscal year comes to a close.

Truth be told, Connecticut’s state’s deficit would be significantly higher if it wasn’t for some handy budget gimmicks that the Malloy administration has been able to utilize including moving money from the last fiscal year into this fiscal year without having to go through the pesky appropriations process with all its transparency, procedures and votes.

Putting aside some “creative” spending strategies, Malloy, Lembo and the Democrats in both the Senate and House are looking to the April 15th tax deadline in the hope that income tax revenues will spike and the deficit will be erased, are at least won’t get worse.

As Lembo said in his press release, “all eyes are on April.” Continue reading “Oh and meanwhile – there is that whole budget deficit thing…”

Phew: Connecticut Needs to Pay Only $926 million to the State Pension Fund this Year.

Stock Market Provides Key to Meeting State’s Pension Goal

Background:  In February 2011, Governor Malloy announced that in addition to tax increases and budget cuts he would balance the state’s upcoming bi-annual budget with $2 billion in savings from state employees.

As one of the loudest critics of the governor’s approach, I’ve been writing about this topic on a regular basis, going so far as to state that there was no way those savings could be achieved.

When the Malloy/SEBAC agreement was reached, the parties announced that it would save the state $1.6 billion over the next two years rather than the promised $2 billion. [The difference was made up by sliding a larger than expected surplus in FY11 to FY12].

The Malloy/SEBAC savings were scheduled to come from a variety of different areas including the freeze in state employee wages, the elimination of longevity payments, changes to the state employee healthcare and pension system and a number of targeted budget reductions.  The non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis could only confirm the value of about one-third of the savings.

But the Malloy Administration remained adamant that it would get all the savings it projected.

The changes to the state employee pension system were calculated to save the state $237 million this year.

Late last week, Keith Phaneuf of the CTMirror, explained the latest development with the pension fund in his “must read” article – see: http://ctmirror.org/story/15039/pension-report .

In order to balance the state budget in 2009-2010, Governor Rell negotiated an agreement with the state employee unions that allowed the state to reduce its payments to the Connecticut State Employee Pension Fund.

Rell and the Democratic Legislature decided to forgo about $314 million in pension fund contributions.

The impact from the reduced payments and drop in the stock market left the State Employee Pension fund with assets of about $9 billion and long-term obligations of $21 billion (or a funded ratio of 44.4 percent – one of the lowest ratios in the country – the appropriate funding ratio is in the range of 80 percent).

Last week, a new actuarial report on the Connecticut’s State Employee Pension Fund has determined that the fund now has assets of $10 billion dollars with long-term obligations of $21 billion (or a funded ratio of 47.9 percent).

The immediate effect of this development is that this year Connecticut will have to make a pension contribution of $926 million instead of the $939 million that was part of this year’s approved budget. (A savings of $13 million)

Thanks primarily to the bizarre ups and downs of the US stock market, the State Employee Pension Fund got over 21 percent on its investment over the last year compared to the 8.25% that was expected.

Although the expected pension savings from the Malloy/SEBAC” agreement did not materialize, this piece of the budget balanced thanks to the incredible return the Fund received.

The new actuarial report is vague but it appears that about $67.5 million of the $237 million expected savings (about 28 percent) was the result of the pension agreement while well over 70 percent of the goal was achieved due to the return on investments.

In what has now become a classic response, Ben Barnes, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, told the CTMirror “thank heaven it was with us [the stock market growth], but market timing wasn’t really a factor for us.”

Meaning what?

The state projected that it would save $237 million in pension costs as a result of the Malloy/SEBAC agreement.

It failed to do that, but thanks to the stock market and investments, the state got that money that it needed; which is good news.

Sticking to his political “talking points”, and despite the recent evidence, Secretary Barnes said that he remains confident that the Malloy/SEBAC agreement will, in fact, save the state $700 million this year and $900 million next year.

And for the record, I remain convinced that it will not.

Yes it does! No it doesn’t! Yes it does! No it doesn’t!

(cross-posted from CTNewsjunkie)

That summarizes the dispute over the “value” of the $1.6 billion dollar concession agreement.

A little secret about how to determine who is telling the truth.

Reading the back and forth between Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes and House Minority Leader Larry Cafero you’d think you were listening to an argument between two 10-year-olds on a playground.

OPM Secretary Barnes recently told reporters that he is “100 percent confident that the deal will yield $1.6 billion: $700 million in savings in the fiscal year that began July 1 and $900 million the following year.”

Cafero, using data provided by the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, says Barnes has inflated the number and there is no way that state is going to achieve that level of savings.

After that it quickly deteriorates into name calling.

Meanwhile, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has risen above that fray to repeatedly point out that this labor agreement is the structural change Connecticut has needed to get back on track.

As is so often the case in American politics, the two sides of trying so hard to argue their respective positions that they have – at least to some degree – bypassed the truth.

The fact is the Malloy/SEBAC agreement will NOT lead to $1.6 billion in savings over the next 22 months but that doesn’t mean that the Malloy administration can’t provide a balanced state budget for this year and next.

First off the governor and legislature have built a significant surplus into this year’s budget to help balance things out should additional dollars be needed to cover expenses next year, which is an election year.  While it is hard to tell exactly how much extra has been built in, between excess revenue and funds hidden in various accounts such as the post-employment healthcare line there could be a quarter of a billion or more that can be used to cover up any shortfall that may occur from the $1.6 billion concession package.

Second, while Governor Malloy has repeatedly said (even this week) that he will not allow any additional taxes to be raised, Barnes, his budget director, is very open about the need and likelihood of raising additional fees to access certain services.

Third, thanks to Connecticut’s second gas tax (the wholesale tax on gasoline); the high gas prices continue to produce a windfall of revenue for the state.  Rather than use those extra funds to pay for transportation expenses the dollars are going into the General Fund where they can be used to help balance the budget.

Fourth, while Wall Street has taken a real hit the past couple of weeks; any recovery there will help push up state revenues since Wall Street bonuses and pay increase income tax receipts.

And finally, while the governor’s super authority to cut the budget evaporates on Sept. 1, he will continue to have his traditional statutory authority to cut up to 5 percent of any given line item in the budget (except municipal aid).  He can and will use this power to cut programs and services to make sure the budget is balanced.

So while the state may not get $1.6 billion in savings from the concession package it certainly helps the Malloy administration balance the state budget.

But the bigger issue is that Malloy has been clear from the start.  This concession package was not about simply balancing the budget.  Malloy has consistently said it was about forcing structural change.

The term “unsustainable” has been Malloy’s second most used phrase behind “shared sacrifice.”

At Thursday’s press conference, Malloy said, yet again, that “The real significance of this agreement lies in the long-term savings it produces for taxpayers and the state of Connecticut,” and that what he negotiated with the unions will create the “systemic change” that will create a sustainable relationship with Connecticut’s state employees.

So what are the elements of that long-term relationship?

(1) Unfunded Pension Liabilities:

As of June 30 Connecticut’s state employee pension fund needed an additional $12 billion dollars in order to fully fund its obligations. Reduce the total liabilities of the State Employees Retirement Fund by the total assets and you have the figure that is called the unfunded liability.  Most states maintain a funding ratio for their employee pension funds of between 75 percent and 125 percent. Connecticut had a funding ratio of about 52 percent before the economic downturn and before former Gov. M. Jodi Rell, SEBAC and the legislature agreed to defer a couple hundred million in pension payments in order to balance the budget over the last few years.  The latest estimate is that Connecticut funding ratio has dropped us to the absolute bottom of the list with a pension fund ratio of only 46 percent.

If Malloy is correct and the labor agreement provides for significant structural change then the state’s pension fund liability should drop dramatically and the state’s funding ratio should go up dramatically.

The next regularly schedule actuarial report isn’t due until June 30, 2012 but the Malloy administration could strengthen its credibility on this issue by having an actuarial assessment done now to see if the changes are really as significant as he says they are.

[By the way, the underlying problem is that about 75 percent of the state’s liabilities are due to Tier I retirees and employees (or other existing retirees).  Over 88 percent of all Tier I employees have already retired. Furthermore, since the labor agreement did not impact Tier 1 employees and only penalized the far less generous Tier II and Tier IIA retirement employees, contrary to what the Governor and Secretary Barnes have said, it is unlikely that this agreement has dramatically reduced Connecticut’s long-term pension obligation).

(2) Unfunded Retirees Health Benefits:

The other major long term state employee related state obligation is the retiree health benefits.

The state of Connecticut has not put ANY funds aside to pay for these required future expenses and instead has opted for a “pay-as-you-go” system in which the state only allocates enough money each year to pay for that year’s out of pocket expenses for retiree health insurance.

As of last June the unfunded liability for retiree health benefits was projected to about $27 billion dollars.

The labor agreement does include a provision requiring all state employees to pay 3 percent of their salary for a period of 10 years into a new retiree healthcare fund that would then be used to over-set the existing $27 billion state liability.

The 3 percent payment – a year for 10 years – was implemented for younger state employees as part of the previous Rell/SEBAC agreement.  The Malloy/SEBAC agreement would expand that program for all state employees starting with 1/2 of 1 percent in FY ’13, 2 percent in FY ’15 and 3% in FY 15.

The 3 percent a year would equate to about $224 million a year. Over 10 years this would provide $2.24 billion or (if I have done my math correctly) about 8 percent of the funds needed to cover the existing liability. The Malloy/SEBAC agreement does require that the state deposit an equal amount into the new fund.  Not counting for the benefit of compounding, the new play means that employees and the state would be putting in about 16 percent of what is needed over a 10 year period.  While that is a critical step forward it doesn’t provide the funds necessary to cover the costs that they state is obligated to pay.

In any case, as with the state’s long-term pension obligation, instead of bickering about who is right and who is wrong, the Malloy administration could put an end to this whole debate by ordering an actuarial assessment on both the state’s pension obligation and the state’s healthcare obligation.

In that way, the public could have the information necessary to look past the Barnes vs. Cafero argument and judge whether the Malloy administration is or is not accurate when it says this agreement deals with what the governor has called the unsustainable relationship with its employees.

Even the bully says bring in your lunch money OR I will beat you up…

(Cross-posted from Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate)

Not, I will beat you up until you bring in your lunch money.

I’ve read some crazy stuff over the past six months as Connecticut meanders towards a budget resolution but the Hartford Courant takes the cake with their recent editorial entitled “State Employee Pink Slips Can’t Stop” and applauds the Governor’s decision to “continue with layoffs till unions vote.”

I actually had to read the commentary piece a few times before I could bring myself to believe what they were saying.

According to the Courant’s editorial,” If Mr. Malloy rescinded the layoffs now, the unions would have little incentive to vote on the agreement with dispatch” adding “ Mr. Malloy has to keep the pressure on by continuing apace with the layoffs plan.”

Wait, let me get this right.

If the Governor puts the layoffs on hold union members would be more likely to vote against the agreement?

The Courant’s editorial writers have no concept of how the collective bargaining process works and worse, are either ignorant or uncaring about the impact layoffs have on the families receiving those notices.

As a result of the Governor’s approach, another 600 Connecticut families (and maybe far more) will face the daunting challenge of becoming unemployed.

Gone will be their bi-weekly check that many use to pay their mortgage or day to day expenses.

Instead these families will have to turn to an overburdened Connecticut unemployment system.

Also gone is their health care insurance.

Beyond the incredible amount of wasted time and lowered productivity as both the state and the laid off employee spend their time filling out paperwork, these families – like thousands of other laid off Connecticut workers – will now be preparing for the school year by reducing their purchasing which in turn hurts Connecticut’s already weak economy.

But even putting all of that aside, the Courant editorial is disgustingly insulting.

We aren’t talking about telling a child that they must get their grades up before they can use their Xbox.

We are talking about hard working adults, who are trying to put food on the table, pay their bills, raise their families and remain productive citizens.

I’m not sure if Governor Malloy is writing editorials for the Hartford Courant or the Hartford Courant is writing speeches for Governor Malloy but their approach is cruel, mean-spirited and unnecessary.

Yes, everyone, including Connecticut’s state employees understands that if the Malloy/SEBAC deal fails – thousands of state employees will lose their jobs. In fact, 57 percent of those who cast their votes in round #1 voted yes and there is no reason to believe that the state employees won’t vote in favor again, now that some issues have been “clarified”.

There is simply no excuse for hurting hundreds, perhaps thousands of Connecticut residents.

Let’s face it. If the population being impacted was deemed a “valued” one, worthy of being treated with humanity, neither the Governor nor the Courant would be say “whatever you do, don’t stop punching them until they hand over their money.”

Politicians engaging in policy by rhetoric is common place; but it is disappointing when the State’s “Newspaper of Record” engages in that practice

(Cross-posted from Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate)

Dear Courant Editorial Writers;

In your editorial today you lectured state employees saying “Repeat after the governor: ‘clarifying’ doesn’t mean ‘better’ and then you go on to say that state employees should expect “no more sugar.”

At no time during the last few weeks did I hear any state employees demanding “more sugar.”

There were significant concerns raised about some of the health care language (as you note).

And I’m sure you too heard a lot of disgust with the way Governor Malloy (and SEBAC for that matter) handled the entire process.

Personally, I’m convinced that had the Governor returned to the table to “clarify” the issues the day they went down and then did a bit better in retraining his anti-state employee rhetoric, a clarified agreement would have already been adopted – by a super majority no less – and the July 1st raises would not now be an issue.

Now that SEBAC has changed its process the concerns can be quickly addressed and with a majority vote and the state government will get the largest concession package in state history.

Quite frankly, the assumption that states employees are trying to “get” a little more is not only absurd but insulting.

As you, yourselves, point out in your editorial, not only will this agreement balance the FY12-FY14 state budget but it will begin the process of putting “the cost of Connecticut’s state government on a sustainable footing for the long haul — by reining in health and pension costs”.  Reading the courant editorials of late make me think you are actually writing them based on the rhetoric that is floating around rather than on the facts.

I understand politicians engaging in policy by rhetoric but it is certainly disappointing when it comes from the State’s “newspaper of record.”

Governor – just a thought – why don’t you actually roll up your shirt sleeves and help make this Malloy/SEBAC agreement happen…

Yesterday, Governor Malloy was up in Litchfield Country touting tourism (something his revised budget cut deeply).

His message, for all to hear, was that he wanted an agreement with state employees finalized in the next 24 or 48 hours but he also made it clear that his plans for massive layoffs would continue (pending such an agreement).

Malloy said, “”We don’t have an approved agreement. We’ve been down this road. We will continue the process of notifications and laying people off, of moving forward as if there is no agreement in place.”

Yeah, Governor, we get it…you “mean business.”

You recognize that fear is a greater motivator and you certainly know how to give a good gratuitous kick to those that fear losing their jobs

But since you are the State’s chief operating officer and you say you really want to get this package done, how about taking a day off the PR trail, sitting down with the state employee unions, talking through the issues and actually help charter a new course for the state.

You talk about the structural changes that are needed and you certainly recognize that the $1.6 billion to balance the budget pales to the $20 billion you say an agreement will save the state over the next 20 years.

When  you think about it, it is really hard to imagine that anything – anything at all – could be more important to the future of this state than your actual participation in making this agreement happen.