Lawmakers approve plan to fund state worker pensions - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers approve plan to fund state worker pensions

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

There was a show-down on Wednesday at the State Capitol over how to fund pensions for state workers.

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s plan was voted on and passed, but not without some balking from republicans. Right before Wednesday’s vote, the GOP said they had a better plan.

The governor's plan could fix the problem right now, saving money in the short term but would cost more down the road.

Republicans didn't like it, but they got voted down.

"Let's just get all the numbers. I think we are all going in the same direction, what's the rush,” said Republican State President and State Senator Len Fasano.

Republicans had their own plan to fund state pensions, which have been unfunded for years -- get the unions to agree to $200 million in concessions and then put the money into their pensions, but unions didn't like it.

"For them to just arbitrarily throw out a number, it just shows that they are trying to gain attention for this,” said Lori Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

Democrats and the unions signed off on the governor's changes, and even some republicans.

"Only last week they were for this agreement, so they were for it. Now they are against it. Right now it seems they have an analysis literally written on the back of a cocktail napkin,” said Democratic State Senator Bob Duff.

The agreement would fund pensions by spreading out payments, putting in less now and more later.

Thirty-three percent of each tax dollar goes to funding pensions and healthcare for retired state employees.

It's controversial and unprecedented, but could be the only way to avoid a $6 billion payment.

Malloy didn't create problem and warned those who opposed his plan.

"From now on, any job that leaves or any job that fails to come to the state I will remind republicans they own it, you break it you own it. I am trying to fix it, they don't want me to,” Malloy said.

The house and senate voted along party lines and passed the governor's pension change.

In a statement on Wednesday, Malloy said “This agreement was created to help put our state’s finances on a path toward stability and predictability, which we need to create confidence and growth. That is why so many applauded the plan and urged its ratification when we announced it – including the business community and national credit rating agencies. I am grateful for the legislators who took the time to review and support this agreement. It is a responsible approach that puts us in line with other states and strengthens confidence in the state’s ability to resolve the unfunded liability.”

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said “This is a good step toward building a budget that is both sustainable and honors our obligations to state employees. I applaud Governor Malloy, legislative leadership, and the unions for working together to find an agreement respects our realities. It honors the obligations made to state employees more than a decade ago and it addresses the very difficult fiscal situation that we face now.  While we have more work to do, this is a very good beginning.”

“This agreement has the endorsement of the major bond rating agencies and our business community, and will benefit Connecticut taxpayers for years to come by improving the fiscal stability of the long-term obligations of the state. Governor Rowland started us down this path in the early 1990s by deferring future obligations, and it is good to see all sides working together now to help get us back on track,” said Speaker of the House-elect Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington) 

"The bill has come due. For 78 years, the state has evaded its responsibility and now it falls on us to do the right thing.  If we followed their lead, we could balance the budget tomorrow - just put nothing towards the pension and our budget problems are gone. Here is the problem: If we didn’t act now, the payments get larger and larger and there would come a time where we could no longer pay our bills. The agreement is backed by the business community and credit rating agencies. Today we took the responsible step for the State of Connecticut,” said House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (D-Hartford)

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