Thousands of state employees could be laid off to fix Connecticut’s budget problems.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said layoffs are possible if state unions don't agree to millions in concessions. It's now the second time in the past week the governor has hinted time is running out.
"I remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement,” Malloy said. “It’s always hard to do. It always takes a long time."
Malloy is once again putting pressure on state employee unions to make a deal. The governor wants 700 million in concessions to help close an unprecedented deficit of more than a billion and a half dollars in the next biennial budget.
“Talks are ongoing and constructive. I am optimistic that we will be able to meet our budget challenges as I proposed in February – with labor concessions that reduce our long-term fixed costs related to pensions and benefits for our employees. I believe that the leadership and members of SEBAC are also committed to a negotiated solution. We all hope that our contingency plans will ultimately not be necessary and that the structural solutions Connecticut needs can be found at the bargaining table,” Malloy said in a statement on Thursday.
There are 35 collective bargaining units negotiating and without an agreement. Malloy's contingency plan targets 12 of the largest executive branches.
This latest push has unions fighting back. In the last budget, some 1,400 state workers lost their jobs.
"We don't need to go down this path,” CT AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier said. “There are other ways to get revenue, but he has chosen this path."
Pelletier said, "there's always room for compromise."
"And keep in mind state employees have already given back a billion dollars in concessions," Pelletier said.
State unions point out they have made concessions about a billion dollars’ worth in 2011.
The governor is looking for other sacrifices. He asked cities and towns to share in the cost of teacher pensions, reductions in college and hospital pilots as well closing correction facilities.
Democrats are expected to put forth their budget proposals next week. Republicans held a caucus Thursday afternoon to come up with alternatives.
"The governor created this problem by raising taxes and not having enough revenue,” State Rep. Tony D'Amelio(R-Waterbury) said. “And now people could lose their jobs because of it. That's unfortunate."
Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.