Connecticut Headlines over the past 24 hours:
Prospects Dim For Malloy-Union Deal; Unions Urge Patience, Malloy Readies ‘Plan B’; Prospects unclear for town aid, social services if labor deal fails; Concession Package On Life Support After ‘No’ Vote; Chances dwindle for budget-balancing labor pact; AFSCME unit rejects concessions, making ratification unlikely
If the Malloy/SEBAC State Employee Agreement Fails – the responsibility for that failure rests squarely on the Governor and his little circle of advisors.
As readers of this blog know, it is apparent that Malloy’s approach to getting a significant state employee concession package was either designed or destined to fail depending on whether you think the Governor’s tactics were an act of omission or commission.
From Day 1, Malloy could not have handled the situation any worse. Over the past 4 months I’ve devoted a blog post to this very issue every week or so…
The shocking highlights of Malloy’s approach begins back on February 15, 2011
Here are some examples from previous Wait, What? Posts.
2/15/11 Malloy panders to the talk-show crowd:
Today, it is the announcement that Malloy will seek $2 billion in employee concessions.
Putting aside the “let’s beat the shit out of state employees,” the Malloy proposal isn’t shared sacrifice – it is scapegoating of the worst kind.
Malloy has put out a number that is designed to fail.
When state employees end up paying their “fair share,” when they end up paying more than their “fair share,” Malloy’s political maneuver ensures
that they still end up losing in the public opinion game.
There is no question concessions are needed — major concessions at that — but anyone in the know, including the governor, knows that $2 billion is a number designed to fail.
The $2 billion is nothing but a fraud, one designed to humiliate and punish state employees for – well, for being state employees.
2/23/11 No more gimmicks – well okay, one more, but then no more after that!
So instead of providing a true balanced budget, Governor Malloy made it very clear. If the state employees fail to provide $1,000,000,000 this year – and another $1 billion next year – he would be forced to shred the state’s human and social service safety net and lay off thousands of people.
3/2/11 Connecticut is not Wisconsin… Right? Right?
Bullying occurs when a “person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways”. It is behavior that seeks to intimidate, offend, denigrate or humiliate a person or group of persons.
As we know, now more than ever, bullying is a form of abuse that is often perpetrated on another as a way to intimidate someone to take some particular action.
Governor Malloy’s entire budget is based on state employees agreeing to make $2 billion dollars in wage and benefit concessions.
Anyone familiar with Connecticut’s state budget knows it is a number that literally cannot be achieved and the Governor purposely put out a number that is designed to fail.
Disguised as shared sacrifice, the Governor’s proposal is scapegoating of the worst kind since he has repeatedly connected his demands to the state employees with the warning that if the state employees fail to provide $1 billion in annual savings, he will be forced to shred the safety net and lay-off thousands of employees at a time the unemployment rate makes it clear that many of those laid off will not be able to find jobs.
Malloy has been very clear. If state employees don’t come up with a billion dollars in concessions – this year – the most vulnerable and needy people among us will be hurt and the fault will lie squarely with the state employees and no one else.
3/14/11 The Silence is Deafening – The $1 billion dollar secret.
More than a month ago Governor Dan Malloy released his proposed Connecticut State Budget. His plan included $1.5 billion
in new taxes, $400 million or so in cuts and $1 billion in state employee concessions.
A month later, the Administration has yet to identify any details about how $1 billion in employee concessions in each of
the next two years can be achieved.
They may claim that the final concession package is a product of negotiations between the Governor and the state employee unions – and it is – but as chief executive officer, the burden is on Governor Malloy to lay out a proposed list of employee concessions that would amount to $1 billion.
How else is the public (and for that matter the legislature) supposed to have any ability to judge whether those changes would be better or worse for the state and its citizens than cutting more elsewhere in the budget or raising additional taxes.
But when it comes to the $1 billion in state employee concessions absolutely no information has been put forward.
An analysis from the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis came up with a possible list of concessions that raised more questions than answers and didn’t remotely add up to $1 billion, in fact their list, which was fairly exhaustive could only identify $300 million in possible savings.
Interestingly, despite the hundreds of news articles and stories about Malloy’s budget, not a single reporter has pushed the administration to explain how they propose to take $1 billion out of the state employee salaries and benefits.
3/25/11 Malloy Threatens Public Employees– Happy Friday!
“Nasty and Ugly” is the latest word from Governor Malloy who said today that state employees are running out of time.
The Governor refuses to put forward a detailed plan about his goal of getting $2 billion in employee concessions.
Yet even without releasing his “secret plan”, both sides have been saying (as late as yesterday) that productive discussions are moving forward.
And Malloy decides to use this moment to threaten the state employees.
5/5/11 Malloy Ramps Up His Psychological War on State Employees
The ugly truth facing Connecticut became increasingly apparent Wednesday as Governor Malloy signed into law a new state budget that is $2 billion out of balance.
A budget that from the very beginning was designed to fail while making Connecticut’s public employees the scapegoats for the state’s fiscal problems.
Over the last 48 hours, relying on unachievable concessions from Connecticut’s state employees, Democratic Legislators approved Governor Malloy’s plan that will eventually lead to massive cuts to vital services.
Rather than confront that truth and raise sufficient revenue or identify and approve additional cuts the Democratic majority held fast to the lie that $2 billion in concessions could be achieved.
However, with only 45,000 active state employees, a legal impediment to reducing the benefits provided to retirees and a legacy of underfunding Connecticut’s state employee pension and health care costs it is literally impossible to achieve a $2 billion concessions package that would survive the negotiation and approval process.
Now, with the budget approved, this twisted approach to governing moves forward as the Governor announces that tomorrow he will issue 4,000 lay-off notices and that “everything is on the table” for additional cuts.
The magnitude of the budget lie is becoming apparent.
4,000 Connecticut state employees and their families now wait in fear for the news that their lives will be plunged into chaos as they are thrown into the world of unemployment during the greatest economic downturn of the past 50 years.
Adding insult to injury, laying off 4,000 employees will not only impact the quality and availability of important state services but it will only “save” the state about $300 million leaving a hole of at least $700 million in the coming year’s budget.
According to the Governor’s rhetoric, this “deficit” will only be eliminated through additional cuts rather than additional revenues – despite the fact that the new budget gave Connecticut’s super wealthy a pass on being required to pay their fair share in taxes.
Cutting $700 million more on top of the record cuts that have already been adopted will have a profound and devastating impact on Connecticut’s most essential services. The quality of life for tens of thousands, including some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens is now at risk because legislators would not face the reality that they were voting on a fraudulent budget plan.
Meanwhile, like so many politicians around the country, Governor Malloy continues to blame this impending disaster on public employees as he ramps up a game of psychological warfare to force concessions and set the stage for cuts in services that can then be blamed on the state’s workers.
And as this horrible strategy plays out there is nothing but silence from Connecticut’s Democratic officeholders.
Imagine if Pratt & Whitney announced 4,000 layoffs.
No, better yet, think back to the times that Pratt has announced layoffs of far fewer employees. Rallies with Democratic politicians on the picket line calling for investigations, demanding meetings and charging that the company is engaged in union busting.
But now when the shoe is on the other foot and a Democratic CEO who is unfairly targeting employees….Silence.
6/9/11 Malloy: I’m Not A Bully…
Yesterday could have been a day of simple congratulations, with Governor Malloy congratulating himself and Legislative Democrats and the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate returning the favor.
But then, as if he just couldn’t help himself, Malloy returned to his old mantra of claiming that if Connecticut’s state employees don’t approve the concession package and come up with $1.6 billion dollars, he can’t be held responsible for the pain and suffering that will occur.
At yesterday morning’s gubernatorial press conference, Malloy told the media “I’m not bullying anybody. Talking in real terms and telling people the truth is not bullying…I just want people to understand the reality.”
And Malloy’s “reality” is that if state employees reject that Malloy/SEBAC concession package, he will be “forced” to lay off up to 7,500 or more state
employees including public servants with as much as 10 to 25 years of service.
According to the Governor, his approach is not “bullying”, it is just a simple statement of fact; If the kid doesn’t turn over his lunch money, he will be forced to beat the crap out of him.
Of course, the Governor’s “reality” doesn’t actually cover the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
That is not to say that rejecting the concession agreement is a good idea.
However, the real truth is that if the agreement is rejected, Malloy and the Democrats could utilize one or more of the following options to fill some or the entire $700 million deficit;
(1) They could fill a portion of the budget deficit by utilizing the growing surplus from “excess revenue”. Connecticut’s 2nd gas tax will generate more than $100 million dollars extra in the coming year. The income tax and corporate tax will also likely produce more than was budgeted.
(2) The budget itself has extra funds in some key line items. The account to pay retiree health benefits, for example, may have as much as $70 million or more in extra funds
(3) The Governor could utilize some of his authority to cut up to 5% of the state budget ($1 Billion) without legislative approval. Although there are some limitations to areas that can or should be cut, the Governor could certainly cut millions if needed.
(4) The law further requires that the Governor develop a plan to deal with any deficit that may arise and propose changes for the General Assembly to approve.
(5) Finally, the Governor could follow the collective bargaining process and return to the table to negotiate a package that would garner majority support among state employees.
So – call it what you want – but the real reality is that Governor Malloy would have lots and lots of options if the agreement fails.
While suggesting that he will lay off 7,500 state employees may or may not be bullying, one thing is certain, it is not his only option.
Now, as the agreement falters, and perhaps fails, the Governor has no one to blame – but himself.