Budget crisis could force state trooper layoffs - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Budget crisis could force state trooper layoffs

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The state is looking to possibly lay off five state troopers. (WFSB) The state is looking to possibly lay off five state troopers. (WFSB)

Budget woes could soon be impacting public safety across the state.

The Connecticut State Police union met with state officials on Thursday to talk about the potential for layoffs. Union officials learned that the state is looking to lay off five state troopers, saving the state just under $300,000.

This would be the first time since 2011 that state police officers were laid off. It's also important to note that everyone who got a pink slip back then did get their jobs back after a lawsuit, but what will happen this time remains to be seen.

"It puts the public at real risk, it reduces our response time and reduces the backup for our troopers," said Connecticut State police Union President Andrew Matthews. "Is it possible that number could increase and they said yes, it is possible. We're thankful it is five right now, but we believe we gave them ideas that would exceed the five positions."

In a letter sent to Connecticut lawmakers on Wednesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recommended taking "aggressive steps" to ensure this year's state budget ends in balance.

The fiscal year will June 30 with what is projected to be a $389 million deficit. In the letter, Malloy called for $33 million in immediate cuts. 

In that letter, Malloy proposed cuts to the judicial and legislative branches of government.

“These layoffs concern us greatly,” said State Rep. Kevin Skulczyck.

“Given the times we're in, I don't believe this is the time to look at laying off state troopers,” said State Rep. Joe Verrengia.

Skulczyck and Verrengia are both on the Public Safety and Security Committee.

In fact, Verrengia is a former police sergeant. While both parties have been at odds this session, the threat of layoffs brought them together. They agree, that if implemented, safety is at risk.

“I'm afraid we'll see a weakening of the public safety, especially in the rural parts of Connecticut,” Skulczyck said.

Skulczyck represents Griswold, Lisbon, Voluntown, Sterling, and Plainfield, which are areas that rely on resident state troopers.

“Those areas, there could be a 10, 15 minute gap between the call and the response time,” Skulczyck said.

During the meeting on Thursday, some of the ideas posed were laying off managers, increasing tickets by $10, and discontinuing the use of temporary retired workers.

"People dedicate their lives to the state, willing to give their lives to the state, they shouldn't be laying off state troopers," Matthews said.

Some lawmakers on the Public Safety and Security Committee said they didn't know the meeting with the state police union and state officials was fast-tracked and happening on Thursday.

Verrengia says it likely has to do with a six-week grace period between the time a trooper is informed of their layoff and the time it takes effect.

He said it appears the state could be trying to drop the ax while it legally can. 

“I think that would speed up the process rather than delay it,” Verrengia said.

For the breakdown on the recessions per state department, click here. 

For more information about Malloy's recessions plan, click here

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