Amid state layoffs, Malloy releases new budget proposal - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Amid state layoffs, Malloy releases new budget proposal

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released his revised midterm budget adjustments for the fiscal year 2017 on Tuesday. (WFSB file) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released his revised midterm budget adjustments for the fiscal year 2017 on Tuesday. (WFSB file)
Layoffs are expected at Department of Social Services on Tuesday. (WFSB file photo) Layoffs are expected at Department of Social Services on Tuesday. (WFSB file photo)

The governor released his latest budget proposal, which has no tax increases, but cuts social services and funding to big hospitals. 

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released his revised midterm budget adjustments for the fiscal year 2017 on Tuesday. The revised budget works to close the $922 million budget deficit. The new proposal also makes substantial cuts to the cities and towns and for the first time. Malloy gave the specific number of work force reductions. 

“We have an obligation as elected officials to tackle the full scope of our challenge. That means we must align our spending with the revenue we actually have, not the revenue we wish we had. Our expectations need to change – we cannot afford to fund everything we always have.  And we need to change the way we budget,” Malloy said in a statement on Tuesday. 

In a release on Tuesday, the governor's office highlighted the following items in his proposal: 

  • Asks non-union employees, appointees, and elected officials in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches to pay 20 percent for their health care benefits, creating a savings of as much as $5 million per fiscal year moving into the future
  • Maintains funding for Community Residential Services for the developmental disabled to continue the state’s move toward community based care for the I/DD community
  • Maintains $11.8 million for the small hospital pool
  • Supports elderly rental assistance and aid to the chronically homeless
  • Creates a more equitable distribution of education cost sharing (ECS) grants
  • Funds the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Office of State Ethics, and Freedom of Information Commission as independent agencies
  • Begins the transition of Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities to nonprofit status effective December 1

“If we are to do what's right for the state, if we are to put Connecticut on a better path for the long-term, then we need to make tough but necessary decisions now to adapt to our new economic reality. That’s what this budget does,” Malloy said. 

More than 350 employees were laid off as of Tuesday afternoon. 

"You think you are going to lose your job. I would put money on it," said state worker Tim Allen said. "I am towards the bottom on the seniority line and it's one of those things where first in first out type of thing."

Allen, who works at the Department of Public Health, said he's only been there there two years. It's taken him years to start a career and now there's uncertainty.

"I have friends, who have worked here for eight to 10 years, they are just as nervous as me," Allen said. "We have not seen this amount of layoffs before. It's a hard thing to cope with." 

State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which is also known as SEBAC, released a statement on Malloy's layoffs. 

"State workers help protect our environment, provide public safety, and affordable public education, and provide essential services to the elderly, the disabled, veterans and others in need. Eliminating more jobs from our economy is not the answer. What is called for here is  to  reduce waste, fraud and abuse, and the political courage  tax the rich in the wealthiest state in the country. In order to allow the rich to keep paying taxes at half the rate the rest of us pay, the governor and some legislators are pushing the largest cuts in public education, and other critical services in our state's history. We call on the governor and legislative leaders to take a step back and consider the irreparable harm he will do to the services upon which our communities and our economy depend and the people that provide them. It may be frightening to tax the rich in an election year -- at least to the political class --  but for the vast majority of people in this state, these are times that demand courage," the statement read. 

On Tuesday, 40 employees of the Connecticut Department of Social Services were laid off, according to union leaders.  

"I sat at that very table where every leader agreed the problem was $900 million and that we had to address that as Republicans and Democrats," Malloy said. "I would hope that any further discussions and I hope there are further discussions, will be based on the need to get to that number."

Besides cuts to social services and the municipalities, the governor said there will higher health care premiums for non-union employees. Malloy said they are looking to reduce the state workforce by 2,500

Malloy said the 2,500 number is not strictly layoffs with the rest will be made up of retirements and an unfilled positions.

"Republicans have not put any budget out," Malloy said. "Democrats have put one out but it doesn't do the job." 

The Democrats' budget was about $330 million short while the Republicans haven't produced a full budget.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby) thanked the governor for "recognizing the full scope of the state’s sizable deficit, however the path to attain long-term fiscal stability is not through layoffs and budget cuts alone."

"They address the effect, but they do not alleviate the cause. We need to focus on rethinking policies to ensure our state lives within its means moving forward. We need to budget for generations, not elections," Klarides and Fasano said in a joint statement on Tuesday. 

Klarides and Fasano said they "recently proposed over a dozen long-term initiatives" including the following changes:

  • mandatory approval of labor contracts by the General Assembly
  • capping bonding
  • creating an Office of Overtime Accountability.

“When the clock was running out on the current fiscal year, lawmakers worked together to successfully resolve the 2016 deficit. We acted quickly, knowing that 2017 would provide us with an opportunity to make more lasting changes and help put an end to the perpetual cycle of budget deficit after budget deficit. Now is the time to act and implement structural changes. Any 2017 budget that lacks these long-term policy changes only sets us up for more failure in the future. If Democrats want to make this a bipartisan process, their legislative leaders need to commit to closing the deficit of over $900 million in full and making significant structural long-term policy changes," Klarides and Fasano said.

On Monday, there were layoffs from two Connecticut agencies. In total, there were 165 layoffs from Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Department of Children and Families on Monday.

There were 59 DMHAS workers that received pink slips, which is expected to save $15 million. However, it was a much bigger cut at DCF. There were 106 DCF workers that received pink slips, which is expected to save more than $12 million. The layoffs included union and non-union workers.

Most of the layoffs are at the juvenile training school, according to Ben Barnes, who is the Secretary of the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.

Last week, the Department of Correction commissioner Scott Semple sent a memo to workers that stated as many as 147 workers could lose their jobs due to the budget issues. That number is lower than projected.

The governor and legislative leaders have been struggling to balance a budget and close a projected $900 million deficit. State worker wages, salaries and pensions make up 40 percent of the state budget.

To read the full budget proposal, click here. 

For the fact sheet on Executive Branch workforce reductions, click here.

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