HARTFORD — State Rep. John Rigby today said the legislature should hold an “up or down” vote on the state employee concessions the governor negotiated recently with labor union leaders.
Gov. Dannel Malloy last month announced a $1.6 million concession package—$400 million short of the amount he needs to keep his budget in balance. Many analysts and lawmakers, including Rigby, have questioned the savings claimed by Malloy, and the state’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis recently said it doesn’t have enough concrete information about the deal to verify the governor’s figures—in particular, more than $600 million in projected savings involving pension and health benefits for state employees with the most seniority. Republicans have questioned many other of the deal’s details.
Whatever the numbers may be, the deal should go through the legislature, Rigby said.
“We should follow the lead of our governor, who over the last few months has repeatedly called for the legislature to take on its constitutional responsibility,” he said.
An omnibus bill (H.B. 6652) considered by the legislature late Monday gives the General Assembly the option of entering a special session this summer to take action on the union deal. Rigby and his Republican colleagues, however, worry that vote just won’t take place: Union contracts go into effect automatically if the legislature fails to take action on them, as has been the trend in recent years.
Rigby, who represents seven Northwest Corner communities, offered an amendment (LCO #8445) that would force the legislature into special session to vote on the concession deal.
“Given the fragile nature of our budget and our state’s economy, this body just can’t gamble that the governor’s savings will pan out,” he said. “We’re partly in this mess because for years the legislature let union contracts slide by without scrutiny. Pick up the newspaper—we just can’t afford that any more.”
“We need more information about the feasibility of these savings,” Rigby said.
The amendment failed in a party-line vote, 95-51.