Public safety officers: We're not the problem with the state bud - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Public safety officers: We're not the problem with the state budget

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Public safety officers protested potential cuts on Tuesday. (WFSB photo) Public safety officers protested potential cuts on Tuesday. (WFSB photo)

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a package of cuts that they say will help close the state's $220 million budget gap. 

Public safety workers, fearful that the cuts could impact the safety of state residents, protested at the state capitol on Tuesday morning. 

The demonstration was organized by the Connecticut Public Safety Coalition which represents 10,000 state employees. Organizers hope to urge lawmakers to reconsider the cuts. 

"I think we have been cutting around the edges for years. Every cut we make now will impact a person here in the state of Connecticut," said Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, House majority leader.

Those who came to the protest were correction officers. They deal with parole and probation. There were also some police officers and firefighters.

Until Tuesday, they've been pretty quiet on the issue. Now, they're sentiment appears to be "don't balance the state budget on our backs."

"We thought it was important to send a message to the legislators in the state that state employees work very hard and put their lives in danger every day, especially the ladies and gentlemen behind us," said Rudy Demiraj, president, corrections officers union. "We are all in public safety and we want legislators and citizens of Connecticut to know that we are not the problem with the state."

As of Tuesday, 85 Hartford firefighters were eligible to retire by June 30. Seventy said they are thinking about retiring if cuts are made, according to union officials. That would cost roughly $4 million in sick pay and vacation time.

The union said the department as it is is already down to 334 firefighters from 403 in 2012.  

Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy's budget lays out cuts that will impact services across the board, along with money that is given to cities and towns. 

He's been saying for weeks that there will be layoffs. How many depends on what unionized state workers are willing to give.

Malloy said he's asking for unions to pay more for healthcare and to make changes in overtime pay.

He said he is on a time line and would like to make the cuts by June 9, before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

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