HARTFORD — The concessions and savings package crafted by Gov. Dannel Malloy and state employee labor union leaders relies on gimmicks that could leave the governor’s administration hundreds of millions of dollars short in its effort to balance Connecticut’s two-year budget, state Rep. Rob Sampson said today. The controversial budget plan approved by Gov. Dannel Malloy and legislative Democrats earlier this month relied on $2 billion in union givebacks. Malloy and labor unions announced an agreement May 13 for $1.6 billion in concessions, leaving Malloy $400 million short of his goal. Malloy has not yet indicated how he would cover that enormous shortfall. That gap aside, taxpayers and politicos throughout the state have turned an eye toward the $566 million in savings Malloy claims in the $1.6 billion concession package he negotiated with union heads.
“They can arrange the numbers any way they’d like, but they just don’t add up,” said Sampson, an Appropriations Committee member who contends Malloy’s projected savings aren’t achievable in the two-year budget cycle. “The governor promised his budget wouldn’t include middle class tax hikes or fake savings built on gimmicks. He said that state employees would have to make sacrifices such as furlough days freezes and reductions in health care benefits. He didn’t deliver on any of that. Government isn’t sacrificing—average taxpayers are taking the hit.”
Details of the “concession” package include:
• A four-year no lay-off provision for the entire state workforce
• 10.3 percent salary increase over five years
• Five year extension of the much criticized health care and pension plan
• No furlough days costing taxpayers $42 million a year
• No changes in taxpayer funded union steward position which cost a total of $93 million a year
• No reduction health care benefits for state workers
• No increase in pension contributions or health care premiums
Sampson also pointed out schemes in the approved two-year budget plan that Malloy claims is “gimmick” free. The questionable savings—the $566 million—equals roughly one third of the $1.6 billion Malloy negotiated:
• $205 million in anticipated savings from requiring state workers to become healthier overnight through annual check-ups and other “Value Added’’ Health care components
• $180 million in savings from state employee suggestion boxes to be placed throughout state government
• $90 million through greater technology
• $75 million from the “Health Cost Containment Initiative’’
• $13.5 million relating to prescription drugs going “off patent’’
• $3 million savings from voluntary obesity and tobacco programs.
Sampson said the four-year no lay-off provision and the five-year pension and health care extension will prevent many short- and long-term savings.