CT Dem Legislators – Why the silence on the layoff of state employees

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.

Malloy and Wyman seek to turn their “Wisconsin Moment” into a Wisconsin Era

Elected on a claim that he would stave off a “Wisconsin Moment,” Governor Dannel Malloy and his “policy partner” and side-kick Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, have not only ushered in Connecticut’s own anti-public employee, anti-government service and anti-middle class “moment,” but Malloy and Wyman are making it clear that nothing less than a Wisconsin Era.

Malloy is saying that the only budget that will get his signature is a full-fledged austerity budget; a spending plan that destroys vital state services and lays off public employees while coddling the rich and shifting even more of Connecticut’s already unfair and inequitable tax burden onto the back of Connecticut’s middle class.

In his latest diatribe, the ever smug, sanctimonious and thin-skinned bully of a governor has announced that he will veto any spending plan put forward by the General Assembly’s Democratic majority that reverses Malloy’s record-breaking, mean-spirited and draconian cuts to the critically important services that Connecticut residents need and deserve.

Pontificating that Democratic lawmakers won’t consider “enough spending cuts,” Malloy has – yet again – telegraphed that when it comes to the state’s revenue and expenditure plan it is  his way or no way.  It is a strategy that will require unprecedented state employee layoffs, will reduce the availability of critically important services for Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, will mean less funding for Connecticut’s public schools and colleges, and will lead to higher local property taxes for Connecticut’s middle income families.

In addition to harming Connecticut residents, the Malloy-Wyman approach to governance leaves the leadership of Connecticut’s unions with egg on their faces and blood on their hands.

As many will recall, during the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, Connecticut’s union leaders were only too proud to hoist Dannel Malloy onto their shoulders with the false claim that Malloy, and Malloy alone, would protect Connecticut from following the dark and devastating tactics being implemented by Wisconsin’s right-wing, Tea Party governor and legislature.

As the media and union representatives reported in June 2014,

Preventing a “Wisconsin moment” from taking place in Connecticut was the prevailing theme of the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s 10th biennial political convention.

A union blog post at the time reported,

“AFSCME President Lee Saunders electrified the more than 300 union delegates to the convention with his keynote address on June 16” roaring, “We can’t afford Connecticut to become another Wisconsin.”

Saunders added,

“This election is in our hands. If we turn out the vote of people who share our values, who want to preserve the middle class, who care about quality public services, then we will win.”

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) leadership explained,

We have chosen to support candidates who will act to prevent a ‘Wisconsin moment’ here in Connecticut,”

And the President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO echoed the rhetoric at a press conference to announce labor’s support for Malloy saying,

“In recent weeks we’ve heard candidates talk about Connecticut having a ‘Wisconsin moment.’ Well let me say unequivocally — we are not Wisconsin.”  

In response Malloy bragged about his commitment to a Connecticut moment,” explaining that,

“A Connecticut moment is when you stand up for your fellow citizens.”

In the weeks that followed, AFSCME dumped $1.2 million into the Super PAC that was created to support Malloy and Wyman’s effort to spend four more years in office.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) added $600,000 and SEIU donated $550,000 to the same political committee.

Another $160,000 in union member funds was slid into the slush-fund that Malloy’s campaign operatives were using to get around Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.

Now, eighteen months later, Malloy and Wyman are standing up on these issues…

But rather than standing up for the People of Connecticut and doing their right thing, they are standing up, turning their backs and walking away from the very people who elected them.

To better understand the damage being wrought by Malloy, Wyman and their policies, one need only read some of the unsettling commentary pieces that have been published by many of Connecticut’s media outlets.  For example,

Connecticut must not balance budget by denying basic medical care

Looming Health Care Crisis Can Be Avoided by Restoring Funds to Community Health Centers

Connecticut position as leader in Children’s Dental Medicaid in jeopardy.

An aging Connecticut needs the Legislative Commission on Aging

Budget cuts threaten Connecticut’s progress in mental health

Governor puts low-income families at risk of losing health coverage

CJTS teachers lament ‘inhumanity’ of sudden staff layoffs

Short-sighted budget cuts undermine CT’s long-term prosperity

CSCU tuition increase no surprise, but is just as wrong

Malloy and Wyman collect public employee political donations – then stab state employees in the back – go figure.

The wave of state employee layoffs that are taking place in Connecticut is a disturbing reminder about how Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman approach electoral politics.

Having promised their support for public services, public employees and collective bargaining, the two neo-liberal politicians had their hands out during their last campaign to collect literally millions of dollars in donations from public sector employees.

However, once safely ensconced back into office for a second term, the dynamic duo have proposed, promoted and implemented the deepest cuts in state history to public services, a hatchet job that includes a new strategy of laying off significant numbers state employees.

It has been thirteen years since Connecticut has seen a governor laying off large numbers of state employees.  That time, disgraced former Governor John Rowland’s disastrous and illegal 2003 purge of state employees ended up costing Connecticut taxpayers about $100 million in back pay and penalties.

As the Hartford Courant reported in January 2016, State Begins Paying $100M Tab For Rowland Layoffs, Including Estimated $15M to Law Firm,

“State officials will spend most of 2016 paying an estimated $100 million tab for last year’s settlement of a long-running federal lawsuit by unions over Gov. John G. Rowland’s 2003 layoff of more than 2,000 state workers. The taxpayer money has already started flowing.”

David Golub, the attorney representing state employee unions and the state employees impacted by that round of layoffs is collecting a tidy $15 million to 17 million in scarce public funds for winning the case.

Now Golub is the lawyer working to help the Connecticut Democratic Party derail an investigation by the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission into the $6 million plus slush fund that the Democratic Party used to – illegally – (allegedly) – support Malloy and Wyman’s  2014 re-election campaign.

At issue in the Malloy/Democratic Party case is the fact that in addition to collecting their $6.2 million public finance subsidy to pay for their re-election, the Malloy/Wyman political operation knowingly and intentionally coordinated and benefited from the activities of two other political committee accounts, each of which raised millions and millions of dollars.

One entity was created by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and other account, the one that appears to have violated Connecticut law, was run through the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Claiming to be “friends” of unions, public employees and public services, Malloy and Wyman played a role (it seems) in helping to raise money from public employee unions into the coffers of the two extra political committees.  Those union funds came directly from the pockets of public employees.

Now, of course, state employees and others who are paid with public funds are learning the true cost of putting their trust in charlatans and deceivers.

Connecticut Forward was the name of the Super-PAC that was set up by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to support Malloy’s 2014 campaign.  (Malloy is now Chairman of the Washington D.C. based group.)

As initially reported by Wait, What? in 2014 and then re-examined in an article published less than two months ago and entitled, Democrats Malloy and Wyman stab state employees in the back – again – and again, Malloy’s political operation and that Super-PAC relied heavily on the generosity of the public employee unions.

When they were running for re-election, Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman were all smiles as they accepted the political endorsements from Connecticut’s state employee unions and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

When Malloy and Wyman wanted the unions to fork over money to help pay for their re-election campaign, union leaders stepped up big time.

Using hard-earned money collected from their members, AFSCME dumped $1.2 million into the Super PAC that was set up to support Malloy and Wyman’s effort to spend four more years in office.  The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) added $600,000 and SEIU donated $550,000 to the same political committee.

During the same period, Malloy and Wyman’s political fortunes were further enhanced thanks to more than $160,000 in union donations to the special account that was set up by the Democratic State Central Committee and used to pay for Malloy’s direct mail program.  Those contributions included $10,000 from AFT, $10,000 from NEA, $5,850 from SEIU, $5,000 from AFSCME and $1,800 from CEIU.

Even the Working Families Party got into the act, moving $25,000 in union funds to the Connecticut Forward Super-PAC.

Now, seventeen months later, although Malloy and Wyman knew that difficult times were ahead and chose to remain silent, public services are being destroyed and state employees are being laid off.

And to those who would dismiss the underlying issue by claiming Malloy is simply taking the financial actions that are needed to balance the state budget, one need only remember that another major source of the campaign cash for the Malloy/Wyman re-election effort was the charter school industry and their pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher education reform allies.

In Malloy’s world of “shared sacrifice,” will proposing the deepest cuts in state history to public schools, Malloy has actually proposed adding to the $100 million a year that is already being handed over to the privately owned and operated charter schools, all while he remains committed to forcing Connecticut’s children to suffer under the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scam and then using the results of that flawed testing system to evaluated teachers.

Finally, while Malloy and Wyman make incredible cuts to public services, they remain committed to an agenda of coddling the rich and opposing any reasonable efforts to make the wealthy pay their fair share.

As Malloy and Wyman institute policies that push even more of the tax burden onto local property taxpayers, Connecticut is already in a situation in which the poor pay about 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, yet the state’s wealthiest only pay about 5.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

The legacy is becoming very clear.  Cut vital services, layoff public employees, make Connecticut’s regressive tax system even more unfair and continue to make a mockery of the promises and pledges of their  2014 re-election campaign.

CT Dem Governor urges Dem Legislature to reject union contract his appointees negotiated and approved

Governor Dannel Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees and appoints and controls a majority of the votes on the Board.  On January 27, 2016, UConn’s Trustees voted 15 – 0 to adopt a new contract with the University of Connecticut’s non-teaching professional staff.  Malloy’s personal representative to the Board of Trustees skipped the meeting.  In fact, they haven’t shown up for 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings.

But Malloy’s neglect to perform his gubernatorial duties didn’t stop him from issuing a press release condemning the new contract and instructing the Democratic controlled General Assembly to reject the contract.

These days, Donald Trump is the world’s leader when it comes to a detachment from facts and reality, but by his action today, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who also serves as the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, rocketed into his own parallel universe by calling on the legislature to reject a contract his own political appointees approved.

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, Malloy is President of the UConn Board of Trustees, he appoints and controls a majority of the members of the Board, yet his personal representative on the UConn Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings including the one in January where the Board of Trustees voted to approve the contract 15-0 (with on abstention).

Malloy’s latest neo-liberal, anti-state employee maneuver is laid out in a CT Newsjunkie article entitled, “Malloy Urges Legislature To Reject UConn Labor Contract.”  The CT Newsjunkie reports;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged the General Assembly to reject a labor contract for 1,900 non-teaching staff at the University of Connecticut.

The legislature has until March 9 to vote on the contract before it automatically goes into effect.

Malloy, who was still on vacation in Puerto Rico Wednesday, sent out a statement repeating remarks he made last week about the state’s fiscal situation. Except, this time he took it a step further and urged rejection of the five year contract, which includes a wage hike and an increase in hours. Malloy, who hesitated last week to offer a firm opinion on the issue, said the contract negotiated last year between the University of the Union does not reflect “our new economic reality.”

The CT Mirror, in Malloy urges rejecting UConn labor pact, explains

After nudging legislators to reject a labor deal granting raises at the University of Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gave them a hard push Wednesday, publicly urging rejection of a contract the university negotiated with its Professional Employees Union.

“We must value and support those that serve the public,” Malloy wrote in a statement. “This contract was negotiated in good faith, and I appreciate the work of UConn and UCPEA. At the same time, agreements negotiated between labor and management must reflect our new economic reality. This contract, which was negotiated last year, does not.”

The leaders of the Senate Democratic majority quickly agreed with the governor, an indication the Senate is prepared to formally reject the contract, which covers nearly 1,900 non-teaching professionals at UConn.

Malloy’s failure to tell legislators, the media and Connecticut voters the truth about his utter failure to influence the process and raise concerns prior to the labor contract’s adoption by his appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees is a testament to his ability to say anything, even when it ignores reality.

The truth is that Malloy had the chance to fulfill his duties as Governor of Connecticut and a “leader” of the Democratic Party, he failed to act.

And now, in a gratuitous pandering move to appear “fiscally” attentive, he throws Connecticut’s state employees under the bus … again!

As explained in yesterday’s Wait, What? post Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…,

On January 27, 2016, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, but one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Over the past week, ratification of the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly has become controversial and Governor Dannel Malloy has suddenly become critical of the agreement despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy’s own personal representative on the Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

As the debate grows, a headline in the Hartford Courant reads, “GOP Leaders Call for Vote Soon on Controversial UConn Contract.”  The Courant reports;

Len Fasano and House Republican leader Themis Klarides are calling for the full legislature to vote on a controversial contract for nearly 2,000 non-teaching employees at the University of Connecticut.

The contract will automatically go into effect if the legislature takes no action by March 9. But Fasano, other Republicans, and some Democrats say that a vote is needed on the multi-million-dollar contract to set the tone for future union awards. The contract calls for a 3 percent raise in the first year and then 4.5 percent increases for four consecutive years – including an increase in the workweek from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Last week, the CT Mirror article entitled,  Malloy: UConn pay raises don’t reflect new economic reality, explained that Governor Dannel Malloy was critical of the new state employee contract with non-teaching professional staff at the University of Connecticut claiming that it was out of step with current economic conditions.

Speaking at press conference, Malloy said;

“That contract does not fully represent the new economic reality, and I have some concerns about it, but the legislature is in charge on this one.  I think there is an economic reality that people are having a hard time adjusting to.”

[…]

The pending contract for the 1,839 members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association provides for annual raises ranging from 3 to 4.5 percent over the next five years.

[…]

“I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it. I think I am going pretty far by saying that if it’s approved, if it becomes the contract, it will be a contract made in this year that will make all other contracts much more difficult to enter into, or to negotiate. It has implications… It’s going to make the legislature’s job a lot harder if they intend to balance the budget.”

Wait, What? 

Malloy said, “The legislature is in charge on this one.” 

And added, “I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it.”

Is Governor Malloy that naïve or does he really think we are that stupid?

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, the governor serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees.

Malloy appointed 12 of the 21 regular members of the UConn Board AND his Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development are all members of the UConn Board due to the positions they hold in the Malloy administration.

Malloy also appoints a personal representative to the board to attend in his absence.

In the parlance of politics, the governor controls the votes.

The truth is that all of Governor Malloy’s appointees to the UConn Board voted in favor of the proposed state employee contract including Board Chairman Larry McHugh, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor.

To even suggest that he had no role in the decision to approve the contract can only mean that he intentionally overlooked the important role he plays on the UConn Board of Trustees or he has decided to lie to the voters of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about whether the State Senate and State House of Representatives will hold a vote on the contract.  According to the latest Courant story,

The House Democrats talked about the UConn contract during their closed-door caucus last week at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, but no final decisions have been announced on whether there will be a vote by the full legislature.

[…]

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who will play a key role in whether there is a formal vote, is concerned about the price of the contract for the UConn Professional Employees Association, known as UCPEA.

“Everyone understands the overall budget challenges we face, and I heard from legislators, both on the committee and not, who expressed understandable concerns, which I share, over the price tag of this contract,” Sharkey said.  “Through no fault of UCPEA, it is apparent that UConn negotiated this without consideration of the economic reality of the state, and their CFO couldn’t say how they are going to pay for it. The truth is it has to either come from taxpayers, more tuition hikes, or layoffs, and that concerns me greatly.”

A longtime political insider said the UConn contract is probably the most important union vote, politically, at the Capitol in the past 10 years.

Republicans say the legislature’s budget-writing committee missed a chance last week to set the fiscal tone by failing to block the contract for professional employees. House members on the committee voted in favor of the contract, which some legislators described as unaffordable and others said should be approved because it was bargained in good faith and approved by the university.

While the House members approved the contract, the Senate members battled to a 6-6 tie as they debated over whether the full legislature should approve the contract.

Sen. Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, voted in favor of the deal because she said that turning it down could eventually cost the state even more money.

[…]

Sen. John Kissel, a longtime lawmaker from Enfield who voted against the contract, said in an interview that the contract could eventually boomerrang on the employees.

“They’re setting themselves up for layoffs,” Kissel told Capitol Watch.  “I think it sets a bad standard because we have 15 others coming up. The other unions would look to that and say there’s precedent.”

Setting aside the arguments for and against this particular contract, the most amazing news of all is Malloy’s attempt to revise the reality surrounding his role in the contract and the fact that legislators are apparently going to allow him to get away with the charade.

Hello Governor, a bit of truth about UConn’s “controversial” state employee contract is in order…

On January 27, 2016, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, but one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Over the past week, ratification of the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly has become controversial and Governor Dannel Malloy has suddenly become critical of the agreement despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy own personal representative on the Board has missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

As the debate groups, a headline in the Hartford Courant reads, “GOP Leaders Call for Vote Soon on Controversial UConn Contract.”  The Courant reports;

Len Fasano and House Republican leader Themis Klarides are calling for the full legislature to vote on a controversial contract for nearly 2,000 non-teaching employees at the University of Connecticut.

The contract will automatically go into effect if the legislature takes no action by March 9. But Fasano, other Republicans, and some Democrats say that a vote is needed on the multi-million-dollar contract to set the tone for future union awards. The contract calls for a 3 percent raise in the first year and then 4.5 percent increases for four consecutive years – including an increase in the workweek from 35 hours to 40 hours.

Last week, the CT Mirror article entitled,  Malloy: UConn pay raises don’t reflect new economic reality, explained that Governor Dannel Malloy was critical of the new state employee contract with non-teaching professional staff at the University of Connecticut claiming that it was out of step with current economic conditions.

Speaking at press conference, Malloy said;

“That contract does not fully represent the new economic reality, and I have some concerns about it, but the legislature is in charge on this one.  I think there is an economic reality that people are having a hard time adjusting to.”

[…]

The pending contract for the 1,839 members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association provides for annual raises ranging from 3 to 4.5 percent over the next five years.

[…]

“I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it. I think I am going pretty far by saying that if it’s approved, if it becomes the contract, it will be a contract made in this year that will make all other contracts much more difficult to enter into, or to negotiate. It has implications… It’s going to make the legislature’s job a lot harder if they intend to balance the budget.”

Wait, What? 

Malloy said, “The legislature is in charge on this one.” 

And added, “I don’t play a role in it, but I will answer questions about the evaluation of it.”

Is Governor Malloy that naïve or does he really think we are that stupid?

As noted, according to Connecticut State Law, the governor serves as the President of the UConn Board of Trustees.

Malloy appointed 12 of the 21 regular members of the UConn Board AND his Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Education and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development are all members of the UConn Board due to the positions they hold in the Malloy administration.

Malloy also appoints a personal representative to the board to attend in his absence.

In the parlance of politics, the governor control the votes.

The truth is that all of Governor Malloy’s appointees to the UConn Board voted in favor of the proposed state employee contract including Board Chairman Larry McHugh, former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter and West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor.

To even suggest that he had no role in the decision to approve the contract can only mean that he intentionally overlooked the important role he plays on the UConn Board of Trustees or he has decided to lie to the voters of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about whether the State Senate and State House of Representatives will hold a vote on the contract.  According to the latest Courant story,

The House Democrats talked about the UConn contract during their closed-door caucus last week at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, but no final decisions have been announced on whether there will be a vote by the full legislature.

[…]

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey of Hamden, who will play a key role in whether there is a formal vote, is concerned about the price of the contract for the UConn Professional Employees Association, known as UCPEA.

“Everyone understands the overall budget challenges we face, and I heard from legislators, both on the committee and not, who expressed understandable concerns, which I share, over the price tag of this contract,” Sharkey said.  “Through no fault of UCPEA, it is apparent that UConn negotiated this without consideration of the economic reality of the state, and their CFO couldn’t say how they are going to pay for it. The truth is it has to either come from taxpayers, more tuition hikes, or layoffs, and that concerns me greatly.”

A longtime political insider said the UConn contract is probably the most important union vote, politically, at the Capitol in the past 10 years.

Republicans say the legislature’s budget-writing committee missed a chance last week to set the fiscal tone by failing to block the contract for professional employees. House members on the committee voted in favor of the contract, which some legislators described as unaffordable and others said should be approved because it was bargained in good faith and approved by the university.

While the House members approved the contract, the Senate members battled to a 6-6 tie as they debated over whether the full legislature should approve the contract.

Sen. Beth Bye, a West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, voted in favor of the deal because she said that turning it down could eventually cost the state even more money.

[…]

Sen. John Kissel, a longtime lawmaker from Enfield who voted against the contract, said in an interview that the contract could eventually boomerrang on the employees.

“They’re setting themselves up for layoffs,” Kissel told Capitol Watch.  “I think it sets a bad standard because we have 15 others coming up. The other unions would look to that and say there’s precedent.”

Setting aside the arguments for and against this particular contract, the most amazing news of all is Malloy’s attempt to revise the reality surrounding his role in the contract and the fact that legislators are apparently going to allow him to get away with the charade.

State won’t pay for DMV contract upgrade until it is done right… Connecticut?  No Kansas

Is privatization of public services always bad?

Certainly not … Over the past three decades, most of Connecticut’s health and human service programs were successfully shifted to community based non-profit providers.  (The very social service agencies that are now being targeted for some of the deepest, most devastating but cuts in Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor’s new proposed state budget.]

But while the rush to hire expensive out-of-state consultants or privatize government services often produces a product that is more expensive and ridden with incompetence, waste and even fraud, Malloy and his administration have spent untold millions of dollars on just these types of efforts and contracts, often with disastrous results.

The problems associated with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles effort to upgrade their computer system is but one such example.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  In their new proposed state budget, Malloy and Wyman are now proposing to privatize additional services at the Department of Motor Vehicles and planning to end the requirement that motorists are up to date on paying their local car tax in order to register a vehicle.  Malloy’s plan would leave Connecticut’s 169 towns twisting in the wind, left on their own to try and collect the property taxes that are due.

See: Democrats Malloy and Wyman stab state employees in the back – again – and again. (Wait, What?),  Malloy Proposes Bill To Outsource Some DMV Services (CT Newsjunkie);  Malloy: Speed DMV lines by shedding ‘collection agency’ role (CT Mirror) and Malloy Calls For DMV Legislation To Cut Wait Times (Hartford Courant)

It is almost as if the Malloy administration is dedicated to forcing cities and towns to raise their property taxes, while purposely refusing to look around and learn from the experiences of others.

Kansas’ problems with the same contractor that Connecticut used to upgrade the DMV computer system.

In June 2013, the Topeka Capitol Journal highlighted the significant and growing problems associated with Kansas’s decision to turn to the 3M Company to upgrade that state’s Department of Motor Vehicle Computer System. In an article entitled, State won’t pay 3M contract until system is fully implemented, the paper reported;

The Minnesota-based company responsible for the state’s new motor vehicle system won’t receive the remaining balance on its contract until the whole system is active and bug-free.

[…]

The driver’s license system was supposed to launch in October 2012, but after the motor vehicle phase caused several issues at multiple counties throughout the state, the KDOR decided to delay its implementation.

By 2012, the problems with the 3M contract in Kansas had led to the call for a legislative audit that, in turn, revealed significant “flaws in Kansas’ motor vehicle driver’s license overhaul.”

But as noted, asking Connecticut State Government, or at least the Malloy administration, to learn from the lessons of others is apparently too much to ask.

The Waterbury Republican-American’s Paul Hughes reported on the DMV situation in September 2015, DMV computer mess assessed – Poor planning cost time and an extra $1.9M, explaining;

“Inadequate planning not only increased the cost of modernizing the computer system for the Department of Motor Vehicles, but also delayed completion of the project, according to a new report.

The rollout of the upgraded computer system snarled business at DMV offices across the state last month after they reopened following a weeklong shutdown, leading to long lines, high levels of frustration and lots of coverage from the state’s news media.

In a report released Thursday, the legislature’s Auditors of Public Accountants said it appears that a lack of proper initial planning by the DMV and project manager 3M Corp. resulted in $1.9 million additional costs and delays.

The DMV agreed with the finding, saying agency officials will reassess the need for professional management services when undertaking major information technology-related projects going forward.

[…]
The report noted several shortcomings on the part of DMV and 3M Corp. regarding the computer system upgrade that cost $26 million.

A lack of adequate planning resulted in certain business requirements not being included in the department’s request for proposals form interested vendors.

The scope of the project had to be modified many times because of the improper review of the contract.

3M Corp. had changed project managers 12 times.

DMV’s own auditing unit was not involved in the project planning.

In another blistering investigative piece, the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender examined the Malloy administration’s actions leading up to and through the DMV disaster.  On January 26, 2016, Lender’s story, Heated Words Inside The Crisis That Led To DMV Commissioner’s Resignation, reported;

Ayala, by the way, has not been heard from publicly since he submitted his resignation to the office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Tuesday night and then held a brief, emotional meeting to announce his decision to his top departmental managers at DMV headquarters in Wethersfield.

[…]

Word of Ayala’s resignation emerged this past Wednesday, two days after The Courant submitted an FOI request and questions on a subject that might have become the latest political headache for him and the Malloy administration: DMV’s hiring in November of an Ayala associate from Bridgeport — who pleaded guilty in 2006 of felony drug charges in Superior Court and served time in prison — as a $36,000-a-year office assistant in the commissioner’s office.

The aide, Carlos Cosme, 39, worked for two years as a $40,000 staff member of the state Democratic Senate Caucus, starting in January 2013, then switched to DMV while Ayala was in charge.

Cosme initially was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2006 on charges of possession of drugs with intent to sell, but that term was reduced and he was released in 2009 to supervised parole that ended in 2011, records show. Cosme was not available for comment.

Personnel records obtained late in the week show that Cosme was hired at DMV on Nov. 13, although state comptroller’s records initially said it was early in 2015, and that he was rated as one of two top applicants by a three-member department panel that included Mildred Torres-Ferguson, the former top aide to the state Democratic speaker of the House who is now executive assistant in the DMV commissioner’s office.

The November hiring was Cosme’s second try at employment in the DMV commissioner’s office; it turns out that Ayala had attempted to hire him at DMV in January 2015 on his way in as commissioner, a top state official said.

[…]

Andres Ayala Jr. resigned as head of the troubled Connecticut DMV in the wake of a disastrous role out of a new computer system. The computer software, meant to streamline DMV services, resulted in massive wait times, erroneously suspended registrations and a number of angry complaints beginning in August 2015.

While Ayala appeared to shoulder the blame, his tenure and the continued problems came at the end of a process that began in 2009.

The errors in the software turnover have continued into 2016, with many vehicles missing from town tax rolls. West Hartford Assessor Joseph Dakers told the Hartford Courant that the missing property amounted to $7.6 million just for his town and it would take a long time for towns to sort through the missing data.

The DMV intended the Connecticut Integrated Vehicle and Licensing System Modernization Project, called CIVLS, to update its computer system. The goal was to allow more online integration so that drivers could register their vehicles, pay fines or fees and order license plates through a website rather than standing in line.

DMV awarded the contract to oversee the update to Science Applications International Corporation. SAIC then sub-contracted with the 3M corporation to use its software. SAIC and DMV purchased 3M’s software in March of 2010 under then DMV Commissioner Robert Ward. Over the next four years, the new commissioner, Melody Currey, oversaw the installation.

“It’s always referred to as the 3M contract, but really SAIC was the contractor,” said Currey, now Department of Administrative Services commissioner.

[…]

The contract with SAIC, with a value of up to $30 million, included just under $22 million for the 3M software, $4.9 million for “additional deliverables,” and up to $3.5 million for optional maintenance over eight years.

Installation of the new system was scheduled to take place over four phases, beginning with “Release 1” or R1. R1 dealt with back office financials and infrastructure, and took place out of the public eye. Currey described the launch of R1 as “very successful” and “a positive story.”

Following R1 in 2011, SAIC transferred leadership of the project to 3M to implement the R2 phase of licensing and registration. According to Ward, there were concerns within the DMV that SAIC was not devoting enough resources to the project and state officials pressured SAIC to turn over management of the project to 3M.

SAIC still maintained responsibility for the project, according a September 2011 memo from the company. “SAIC, however, acknowledges that it will remain primarily responsible for the completion of the terms and conditions of the Agreement. Any enforcement of the terms and conditions of the Agreement will be made in accordance with the terms of the agreement with SAIC which remains fully responsible for the performance of its subcontractors and the completion of the project.”

The problems began for Connecticut drivers during the R2 phase of the software upgrade. Similar to the issues facing towns now, records for hundreds of divers that should have been transferred were lost in the old system. The DMV had to assign a special team to retrieve the information. Glitches in the system itself extended wait times from half an hour before the upgrade to three hours following the rollout. Several months after the upgrade, drivers were still reporting that the DMV had erroneously suspended registrations, which led to tickets for the “violation.”

[…]

When a 2012 audit of the DMV found that the upgrade was facing serious problems with implementation, one of the names signed at the bottom of the report was former DMV Commissioner Ward’s. When he left DMV, Ward became one of Connecticut’s two auditors of public accounts.

The audit notes that 3M had changed project managers twelve times since work had begun. It also raised concerns about improper management. “It appears that inadequate planning of the project not only increased the cost, but also resulted in delaying the completion of the project. Many existing issues with the current antiquated system that should be resolved with CIVLS may remain unsolved for years.”

The audit recommended improvements. “The Department of Motor Vehicles should consider proper planning by using professional project management services for major projects such as CIVLS, so there is adequate planning in order to avoid additional costs and issues in carrying out the project.” DMV did not follow this recommendation.

Currey said many states have tried similar upgrades to DMV software with worse results. “It’s a very hard change in the system. You knew there were going to be glitches and struggles as it is with any change in technology.” She said that California, in particular, spent $208 million before giving up on a DMV upgrade project altogether. California was using the contractor HP Enterprise Services, another company with a sour history updating DMV records, particularly in Vermont where the contractor and state parted ways after an effort costing $18 million.

[…]

Some supporters say Ayala may have been the “fall guy” for a faulty system put into place years before his role at the DMV – while his predecessors moved on to new, more powerful positions.

“My four years at DMV brought about many changes that created a more effective department for people and businesses. I have those same goals for DAS,” Currey said at the time of her nomination to run DAS, Connecticut’s main contracting agency. Currey said she believes Connecticut weathered the storm much better than other states and now the new system is up and working properly.

While proposing to cuts to most of state government spending, the Malloy administration recommended increasing the DMV budget by 27 percent next year. Overtime at the agency is on track to double this year.

Overtime at the agency is on track to double this year?

And now Malloy and his administration want to outsource more of DMV’s services and eliminate DMV’s role in helping towns get the property taxes that they are due.  Of  course, unpaid local property taxes can lead to program cuts or increased taxes for those who do pay what they owe.

But apparently all of that is of little concern to Team Malloy/Wyman.

Democrats Malloy and Wyman stab state employees in the back – again – and again.

When they were running for re-election, Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman were all smiles as they accepted the political endorsements from Connecticut’s state employee unions and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

When Malloy and Wyman wanted the unions to fork over money to help pay for their re-election campaign, union leaders stepped up big time.

Using hard-earned money collected from their members, AFSCME dumped $1.2 million into the Super PAC that was set up to support Malloy and Wyman’s effort to spend four more years in office.  The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) added $600,000 and SEIU donated $550,000 to the same political committee.

In addition, when Malloy and Wyman wanted campaign donations funneled into a special account run by the Democratic State Central Committee, the various unions came up with over $160,000.

And not a complaint was heard when unions’ political operation kicked into high gear, providing the votes that Malloy and Wyman needed to get the second term in office that they so desperately wanted.

Even after the 2014 election, Team Malloy/Wyman kept their proverbial hand out, looking to the unions to cough up even more of their members’ money.  According to the latest campaign finance reports, the state employee unions have donated in excess of $42,000 to the Malloy/Wyman political operation in 2015.

However, as Connecticut’s public employees are learning, yet again, the Malloy administration is fond of turning on state employees with a vengeance.

While refusing to demand that Connecticut’s wealthiest residents pay their fair share, Dannel Malloy’s new state budget plan cuts vital programs, lays off state employees and seeks to privatize public government functions.  The budget proposal is more in line with something that would be coming from the likes of right-wing Republican Governor Scott Walker.  (See also – Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU Wait, What? 11/6/2015)

In addition to proposing a state budget balanced through state employee layoffs, concessions and major budget cuts, each news cycle reveals additional attacks by the Malloy administration on state employees and the services they provide.

As CT Newsjunkie is reporting in an article entitled, Malloy Proposes Bill To Outsource Some DMV Services, in an incredible and deceitful move, Malloy is expanding his effort to shift the blame for the massive problems associated with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ recent computer upgrade onto the backs of the state employees who work at DMV.

Although it was the Malloy administration that contracted with the out-of-sate, for-profit company to revamp DMV’s computers, a move that has led to longer wait times and a variety of problems, Malloy is now proposing to privatize even more of the DMV’s activities.

As CT Newsjunkie reports;

AFT Connecticut First Vice President Jean Morningstar said the outsourcing of the information technology was just the most recent in a “long line of outsourcing failures that could and should have been avoided.”

However, “the administration appears ready to double-down on another risky contracting scheme. If it fails — like so many previous privatization bungles — state residents will be left with the tab and suffering from degraded services,” Morningstar said.

Morningstar serves on the State Contracting Standards Board, which has been unable to meet to go over contracts because the governor has yet to fill the vacancies on the board and it doesn’t have a quorum.

This week Malloy and Wyman will begin a new round of their – my way or no way — budget tours, and while the spin will be coming fast and furious, their fundamental approach to the Connecticut state budget will be clear for all to see.  Target the most vulnerable for budget cuts, expand funding for charter schools, shift costs to local property taxpayers, college students and others … and most importantly … blame state employees.

Malloy’s approach has certainly changed considerably since he took the stage  at the AFL-CIO convention in June 2014 where he proclaimed;

“A Connecticut moment is when you stand up for your fellow citizens,” Malloy told about 450 union leaders and supporters gathered in the unionized Omni Hotel. “When you understand that they too have rights; that we can move forward together, and in fact when we don’t move forward together, we move backward.”

If this all sounds a bit familiar… 

 Union Members Not Interested in ‘Wisconsin Moment’ (AFSCME + AFT IN CT Newsjunkie)

No Wisconsin Moment in CT (AFSCME)

Conn. Members Say No to a ‘Wisconsin Moment (IBEW)

Wyman: We’re All In This Together, Offers To Buy Foley A Ticket To Wisconsin Moment (OIB Blog)

NOTE: For those who want to be lectured to, the Malloy/Wyman style of leadership will be on full display at their first Town Hall Budget Forum February 11, 2016.

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman today announced that they will hold a town hall forum in Stamford on the evening of Thursday, February 11, 2016, to discuss his budget principles, his proposals for adapting state government to a changing economy, and other issues concerning the future of the state.

The forum will be held from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the UConn Stamford Campus in the Gen Re Auditorium (1 University Place, Stamford).  Residents who would like an opportunity to ask the Governor a question should arrive about 30 minutes prior to the start of the event to submit their name on a sign-up sheet.  The forum is open to the public.

The Stamford event will be the first stop in a series of town hall forums that the Governor and Lt. Governor will be holding throughout the 2016 legislative session.  The event will be similar to those they have held in previous years, where they answered hundreds of questions on a range of state issues at numerous forums.

Dates and locations for additional town hall forums in the series will be announced during the coming weeks.

Connecticut Public Financing Program “Safe”, For Now … But…

As CT Newsjunkie reported late yesterday,

“By the end of the day Thursday, both House and Senate Democrats who proposed suspending Connecticut’s landmark public financing system in 2016, had withdrawn their proposals.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, made the announcement early Thursday afternoon and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz agreed to find the money elsewhere later Thursday afternoon. The news of the reversal came part way through a press conference held by ConnPIRG, Common Cause, lawmakers and other defenders of the clean election system.”

As reported in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled, Connecticut’s Democratic Legislative Leaders call for suspending elections to save money…,

The Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly proposed suspending Connecticut’s public financing system, thereby allowing legislators to transfer about $11 million toward the $254 million budget deficit in this year’s state budget.

Their plan would roll back the campaign finance system that Connecticut adopted after former Governor John Rowland resigned in disgrace and was sent to prison.

Instead of keeping Connecticut’s Clean Election Program in place, Democratic leaders would return the state to the “Wild West” campaign fundraising system that favored incumbents and ensured that campaigns for the legislature were primarily financed by political action committees, lobbyists and those who benefit financially from state contracts.”

Former Governor Jodi Rell joined in condemning the Democratic leader’s move to end the Clean Elections Program but correctly noted that Governor Malloy and the General Assembly had already undermined some of the most important aspects of the historic effort to keep dirty money out of Connecticut politics.

In a statement Rell observed,

“The Democrats have effectively eviscerated the spirit of the law since 2011 and now they are looking to overturn the actual letter of the law altogether.”

Meanwhile, faced with a state budget deficit in excess of $254 million, the Senate Democrats issued their own proposal yesterday. (See CT Newsjunkie’s The Democratic Divide and CT Mirror’s Senate Dems break with House, go own way on deficit.)

As the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,

Senate Democrats issued their own deficit-mitigation plan Thursday, pressing for a retirement incentive plan opposed by House Democrats and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as damaging to the state’s overburdened pension system.

The retirement incentives were offered in place of suspending the state’s public financing of campaigns, a measure included in a list of spending cuts they jointly proposed Monday with House Democrats.

[…]

An estimated $163 million would be saved over this fiscal year and next, Senate Democrats say, by paying incentives to encourage senior state employees to retire.

Of course Connecticut has learned the hard way that while retirement incentives “reduce” the state payroll by persuading state employees to retire early, it does that by moving employees from the state payroll over to the pension fund, which is already extraordinarily underfunded.

In addition, since some state employee positions must be refilled in order to maintain some of the most critical state services, early retirement programs never save as much money as initially proposed.

For Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, early retirement incentive programs disrupt the level and quality of vital services they receive.

In addition, while the budget cutting plans issued by Governor Malloy, the House Democrats, the Senate Democrats and legislative Republicans differ in various ways, all target the University of Connecticut, Connecticut’s State Universities and the state’s Community Colleges for even more devastating cuts ranging in size from a low of $12 million to Governor Malloy’s high of $28 million.

Malloy has already dealt Connecticut’s public colleges and universities with the biggest budget cuts in Connecticut history, which in turn have led to massive tuition increases and reduced educational opportunities and programs.

State Treasurer Denise Nappier’s powerful statement about Malloy’s State Employee Pension Proposal

Connecticut’s State Treasurer Denise Nappier deserves significant praise for stepping forward and having the courage and conviction to speak the truth about the legitimate concerns surrounding Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposal to fundamentally change the way Connecticut funds is massively underfunded State’s Employee Pension Fund.

Just three years ago, Malloy called on Connecticut to aggressively resolve the state’s historic unwillingness to properly fund its State Employee Pension Fund (See January 2012 Wait, What? post  Malloy Takes Bold Step – Proposes Paying for State Pension Fund the Right Way.)

However, Malloy recently reversed his previous position and rather than focusing on making the State Employee Pension Fund more financially sounds, Malloy proposed shifting a significant portion of the shortfall onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. Continue reading “State Treasurer Denise Nappier’s powerful statement about Malloy’s State Employee Pension Proposal”

Malloy kicks the can so far down the road that it land’s right on our children’s heads

The voters of Connecticut need to pay special attention to Governor Dannel Malloy’s irresponsible proposal to change the way that Connecticut funds its pension program for state employees.

Governor Malloy’s plan is nothing more than an outrageous maneuver to balance his failed state budgets on the backs of our children and their future.  As the title of yesterday’s Wait, What? blog stated – Connecticut: BEWARE of Governor Malloy’s most fiscally irresponsible budget proposal yet.

The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf provides more information about Malloy’s proposals in his latest article, explaining that the new initiative violates one of the most fundamental promises Dannel Malloy made when he was running for governor in 2010.

Keith Phaneuf writes,

“One year after taking office, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vowed to accelerate payments into the state’s cash-starved pension fund, much as a family might make extra mortgage payments now to lessen balloon payments looming in future years.”

But not surprisingly, although Malloy pushed through significant tax increases in 2011 and 2015, he used the additional funds to pay for other things and never followed through on his commitment to make those extra pension payments.

Now, in the face of new state budget problems, Malloy is completely reversing his stand on properly funding Connecticut’s State pension fund and proposing “kicking the can” down the road by pushing off $8 billion in necessary pension payments onto the next generation of Connecticut taxpayers.

Phaneuf notes,

“Under the governor’s plan, Connecticut still would catch up on its pension contributions — after 2032.”

But as the CT Mirror reports, the Governor who seems unable to tell the truth denied reality, once again, claiming,

“We are not kicking anything down the road,” Malloy said, citing a phrase he and other gubernatorial candidates used in 2010 to describe the fiscal gimmicks that had weakened the pension system and created a record-setting state budget deficit at that time.

“It is simply irresponsible to leave more and more debt for future generations.”  Malloy wrote in his 2010 campaign platform on “Taxes & The Budget.”

The governor insisted this week that it would be irresponsible to pretend state finances, and taxpayers, could afford a $6 billion-plus pension expense down the road.

Postponing some pension payments until later to avoid that fiscal iceberg is the best option, Malloy said, adding that his new plan would “smooth out” the late-term costs.”

However, the truth is that the real spike in the amount of money needed to meet the required pension payments – the real “iceberg” Malloy is referencing – does not occur this year, or next year or even the year after that.

The harsh reality is that Governor Malloy isn’t offering up this new pension funding plan because he is worried about whether the state can make its required pension payments in 2025, he is doing it NOW because he wants to use the money that we should be paying into the pension fund over the next few years to balance the state budgets during his remaining time in office.

This is not an issue of Democrats versus Republicans or Liberals versus Conservatives.  Nor is it a debate about whether there should be addition changes to Connecticut’s state employee pension program.

This debate is about whether Connecticut will fulfill its financial obligations to the state pension fund or allow Dannel Malloy to divert that money to balance his state budgets and reduce the need for additional tax increases or budget cuts.

There will always be politicians like Dan Malloy who would rather dump problems on someone else rather than actually tackling the job of developing fair and honest balanced budgets.

That said, what is not be acceptable is allowing Malloy to resolve the mess he created by dumping the problem on our children.