CT budget deal is close - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT budget deal is close

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A tentative agreement with labor unions could save the state more than a billion dollars. (WFSB) A tentative agreement with labor unions could save the state more than a billion dollars. (WFSB)

The Connecticut governor calls it "groundbreaking" that a tentative agreement with labor unions will save the state more than a billion dollars. However, the unions said they're close, but there is still no deal.

The agreement includes wage freezes as well as changes to health care and pension benefits. If unions agree to the changes, it will prevent thousands of state workers from losing their jobs.

"We are providing some job protections, but look at what we are doing, we are adding two new classes of health coverage,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

The governor is talking about it like it’s a done deal, but state unions are not quite ready to give their new contract a thumbs up.

Malloy and his staff have been negotiating for weeks on ways to save money now and in the long term. The agreement includes wage concessions, changes in healthcare for employees and retirees as well as pensions. Next year, it will save more than $700 million and by the year 2022, it will save more than a billion dollars.

In addition to wage freezes, all employees will pay higher co-pays. Current employees pay $35 for an emergency room visit that will go up to 250 and on prescription drugs, generics from $5 to $10 and non-generic $25 to $40.

The governor has said layoffs will continue if unions don't agree to concessions.

While some lawmakers said they feel this is a good agreement, but what they don't like is the extension of the contract, which technically would expire ten years from now.

In a statement on Tuesday, SEBAC said "This framework and potential savings are a clear example of why collective bargaining is so imperative for our state. Without collective bargaining, the billions of dollars in savings would not have been realized. This was an important first step as middle-class workers are doing their part to help solve the budget deficit. Now is the time for legislators to ask the same of the state's most wealthy and billion dollar corporations. A final SEBAC agreement will rescind the layoff notices that have been issued since April, provide four years of layoff protection and extend state health care and retiree health care benefits for five years. Within this framework, the administration must complete all unit negotiations before SEBAC can move forward towards a membership vote. There are critics who have already come out against this framework because they believe that it does not cause enough pain for working families. These critics would undoubtedly stand against any agreement with SEBAC. Those individuals need to be reminded of the fact that state employees continue to save the state $1 billion annually through concessions."

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