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Lavielle, Wilms, and Wood denounce ‘a bad deal for Connecticut’ as SEBAC labor agreement passes the House

NORWALK, Conn. – This is a press release, presented in the format in which it was sent:

 

HARTFORD – Norwalk’s GOP delegation of State Representatives Gail Lavielle (R-143), Fred Wilms (R-142), and Terrie Wood (R-141) voiced their dismay at Monday’s House approval of the state employees’ union concession package due to its insufficient savings and structural changes and its extension of the current union contract until 2027.

The concession package, negotiated by Governor Malloy and union leaders, was ratified by state employees earlier this month and now is tentatively scheduled to go before the Senate on July 31.  Analysts have predicted the plan could save approximately $1.5 billion over the next two years by increasing pension contributions, creating a hybrid/defined contribution plan for future state employees, increasing healthcare co-payments, and realizing other labor savings.  The deal also restricts the state’s ability to lay off workers until 2021. 

House Republicans, including Lavielle, Wilms, and Wood highlighted some of the structural change in the concession package as “steps in the right direction” that they supported, but denied the notion that the deal solved Connecticut’s fiscal crisis and indicated it could lead to funding cuts and tax increases in the future.

“Connecticut taxpayers have now seen where the priorities of the legislative majority truly lie: we are facing a $5.1 billion deficit over the next two years, one month into the fiscal year we still don’t have a budget, people are suffering due to deep service cuts, and yet we spent an entire day discussing a contract with state employee unions,” said Rep. Lavielle.  “The labor contract the House approved does not go far enough in achieving the savings our state desperately needs, and while it includes a few small steps on reforms that I’ve advocated for, the job is only half-done.  I fear that this deal clears the way for continued future tax increases and cuts to essential services.  Because it locks in the current, unaffordable union contract, every legislator who votes in favor of this deal bears responsibility for every single tax increase and service cut Connecticut residents may have to bear for the ten years until the contract expires.”

“Where we are today is a result of choices that were made by our predecessors, and we have to live with the choice they made, just like our successors will have to live with the choices we make now,” said Rep. Wilms.  “I am disappointed with the choice the majority party made yesterday, because it was not the right choice for Connecticut.  This SEBAC agreement does not get the job done and locks in costs for ten more years.  Our successors will have to pay for this choice.”

“There are certainly some good pieces to the union agreement changes, but it fails to achieve the kind of needed savings to make a dent in this enormous $5.1 billion deficit,” said Rep. Wood.  “We need to bring the expensive benefit system set up for state employees more in line with the private sector. Without significant structural changes, we will be right back where we are very soon.”

No action was taken Monday on passing a two-year budget for Connecticut.

House Republicans’ attempts to call their fully-vetted, no tax-increase budget proposal for a vote were rebuffed by majority Democrats.  Their first attempt took place in the form of a proposed rules change, the second in the form of an amendment to the union agreement.

“All day we were told by majority leadership that this labor agreement was the only option for the state, despite the fact that House Republicans have been asking for a vote on our balanced, no tax-increase budget since April,” said Rep. Lavielle.  “This is not fair to the people of Connecticut, who deserve fair and open consideration of every viable budget option. It is unconscionable for the state to go this long without a two-year budget in place, and not voting on one is unacceptable.  I will continue to advocate for taxpayers and to push for a vote on our budget regardless of what the majority party may do to block it.”

“We have tried on multiple occasions to bring our House Republican budget up for a vote,” said Rep. Wood.  “Unfortunately, the Democrats have used their narrow majority to prevent us from even bringing it up for a debate.  It is deeply troubling to me that, especially in the absence of any budget proposal from Democrats, that they refuse to even discuss our budget package and debate it on its merits.  We have been prepared to do that since April.”

State Representative Gail Lavielle represents the 143rd district, which includes parts of Norwalk, Westport, and Wilton. She is Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee and a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and the Transportation Committee.

State Representative Fred Wilms represents the 142nd General Assembly district communities of Norwalk and New Canaan. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Planning and Development Committee, and the Transportation Committee.

State Rep. Terrie Wood represents the 141st General Assembly district which includes Darien and part of Norwalk.  She is Ranking Member on the legislature’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee, and serves on the Human Services and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committees. 

 

This press release was posted as a public service. A press release is a written announcement submitted to news organizations to publicize an event or activity, a milestone or a point of view. NancyOnNorwalk has not researched the assertions made and takes no responsibility for the content.

Comments

13 responses to “Lavielle, Wilms, and Wood denounce ‘a bad deal for Connecticut’ as SEBAC labor agreement passes the House”

  1. Sue Haynie

    Stay strong, don’t relent.

  2. M. Murray

    Should have honored the contract you already had in place and let it expire a natural death instead of trying to force a renegotiation mid-contract. You can’t expect to get something without giving something with an existing contract in place. In this instance you received many financial concessions at the expense of the employees, and in exchange, you had to give up a contract extension. Layoff protection is t that big a deal since their has been a job freeze in many positions for over a year and you can reduce employee numbers through attrition. Many agencies and departments are understaffed already. Let’s see how fast the state hires people after this contract is signed to get more employees at the lower rate instead of keeping the number of state employees down.

  3. David

    I’m not sure I’m seeing your point. The deficit is 5.1 billion over the next two years and this deal accounts for ~2 billion in savings. That’s a pretty good chunk of change for one deal.

  4. Isabelle Hargrove

    @David
    The point is two-fold
    1. Not enough is achieved – less than 1/2 of the deficit.
    2. More importantly, the back-end of the deal has terrible consequences for CT. The best analogy is to loan sharks, they seem to save you with quick, easy money, but the terms are so exorbitant, you are certain to default. This is called usury outside of Hartford and it is illegal. This is particularly unsavory because it was negotiated by a failed governor, with abysmal approval ratings, and who is not running for re-election.

    We are one of the few states where union pension contracts are not subject to a vote by our legislature and the consequences are obvious.

    http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-state-retirement-benefits-surprise-20170726-story.html

    Democrats in Hartford, including Senator Duff who today published an op-ed supporting this nightmare, very well know how horrific the back end of this deal is. But for their short-term personal gains (the next election), they are willing to sell out our state. It is despicable and these people would be liable for gross negligence in the private sector. Unfortunately, this is politics so they are hailed as heroes.

    Voters do bear the responsibility of informing themselves and of understanding the full picture and the long term consequences of this deal. Unless, of course, like Malloy, they plan to move out next year.

  5. Maria Alarcon

    Go ahead.
    Keep voting democrat….you never learn.

  6. M. Murray

    Expecting the State of Connecticut to honor their labor contracts is like expecting Hitler to honor his peace treaties.

  7. David

    Isabelle: outside of opinion or assessment of the governor (regardless of whether you like him or not)…if I was an executive and you brought me a plan that cut 40% of a deficit, covering ~60,000 employees in an organization with a workforce of 1.9 million, I think I’d be satisfied. Could it be better? I’m sure it could! Marginally, or significantly, is the question. One deal cut 40% of the deficit. Make some more deals. I’m not trying to endorse the governor or the legislature (I’m apathetic to both, to be honest). I just think a little context is called for. Lavielle and Wilms didn’t get everything they wanted. That’s usually the way it works. Let’s just say that and move on to the next thing.

  8. Donna

    A ten year contract is a long contract.

  9. Isabelle Hargrove

    Unfortunately, David, we will be moving on to the next thing and it will be more budget crisis, more credit downgrading, more tax hikes but lower revenues, rising expenditures to pay for this union deal at the expenses of social services; i.e, a financial death spiral.

    Grave mistakes were made by all parties in CT for the last 30 years. We can’t afford to continue to offer public employees the lavish salaries and benefits we currently offer. Our contracts are more generous than other states, our state employees make 25% more than the private sector. The loopholes people are taking advantages of are bewildering. Please read this article attached.

    The shiny object Magician Duff is waving at us is a poison pill. I am sorry to tell you, David, that you would be a poor CEO for accepting this deal…

    http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-state-disability-workers-overtime-0730-20170728-story.html

  10. david

    Thanks for posting that article Isabelle, it’s got some REALLY interesting statistics in there. The case of the worker: “A worker in the north region, with a base salary of $57,000, had earned $122,500 by mid-year,”

    Assuming all OT is paid at 2x (unlikely, but let’s go with it) says that this worker is putting in ~72 hour work weeks. Every week. Through the first half of the year.

    The math to remedy this is simple: Hire more employees to spread the cost over straight time, not OT, or simply cut the services. We have cut the number of state employees in recent years. This particular case (and I understand there are many not like it) is because of too few workers, not too many.

    So why not just come out and cut the services? When I talk about moving on to the “next” deal, that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Let’s get serious about what we REALLY want to do here. We don’t have to lay people off, just redefine the service parameters.

    And we, the residents, as the stakeholders in how this state is run, get to collectively own the outcome of those decisions.

    I agree with you about the 30 years of mismanagement. But in all my years as a taxpayer in CT, I can’t remember a time where Governor/Legislature said to me “do you want to cut drastically the services for mentally challenged adults in our state?” I think it’s high time we had that debate and I REALLY hope it comes out in the coming gubernatorial election.

  11. Donna

    Dave, I don’t think you read the same article that Isabelle posted. The question isn’t whether or not stakeholders want to cut services for mentally challenged adults, or whether or not taxpayers and voters have been asked the question. The article highlights inequities between private sector and public sector costs for identifical services. The public sector services for the handicapped are disproportionately higher. Isabelle posted an article that illustrates the dilemma beautifully. CT CAN offer the same level of services to its residents for less money than the state currently spends. Public sector expenses are the tail wagging the dog.

  12. david

    Thanks Donna, I re-read the article, and I see the part you are talking about. To be fair, it’s a single paragraph and only highlights staffing ratio’s (2.7 to 1 vs 2 to 1). I think that’s fair and look, worker productivity is a huge factor in any organization. Are there tech or support services that give that productivity boost? We would have to speculate in order to further the conversation.

    The bulk of this article squarely calls out the overtime issue. That’s what I replied to. It’s also a valid question to ask why the state is even in this business in the first place. If we just shut down the state facilities, wouldn’t the private sector pick up the slack?

  13. Donna

    Another fair question is, given that care for the disadvantaged is widely considered the business of both governmental and private entities, how are private entities able to deliver the same services for less money. Productivity in these kinds of studies usually means fewer people are able to do the same work without negatively impacting the quality of the program. Contractual obligations are often a source of uncontrolled costs.

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