HARTFORD — State Rep. Rob Sampson 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 Sampson, 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, Sampson said.
“We should follow the lead of our governor, who has repeatedly called for this legislature to take on its constitutional responsibility and vote on contracts,” 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. Sampson 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.
Sampson, who represents Southington and Wolcott, supported an amendment (LCO #8445) that would force the legislature into special session to vote on the concession deal.
“Given the poor shape of our budget and our economy, this body just can’t gamble that the governor’s savings will work out,” he said. “We’re partly in this mess because for years the legislature let union contracts slide by without review. Click on the television—we just can’t afford that any more.”
The state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis is a nonpartisan agency that helps legislators analyze the fiscal impact of proposed legislation.
“We need more information about the feasibility of these savings,” Sampson said.
The amendment failed in a party-line vote, 95-51.