Some are more equal than others in CT

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The state legislature very recently approved a new Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which will allow covered employees to take paid leave for up to twelve weeks.  This leave will be paid by the state within certain set limits and, in exchange, employees will have to pay an additional 0.5% in payroll taxes.  Much ink has already been spilled debating the merits of this new law.  Suffice to say that some people are generally happy while others are generally unhappy.  One small group of employees is particularly happy, though, and it deserves special mention.

Public sector unions have once again hit up their friends in Hartford for flexibility not otherwise available to the rest of us plebeians.  We have grown both accustomed and perhaps numb now to unchecked grants of benefits to our public union members, the sheer scale and quantity of which continue to flood our state’s balance sheet like an encroaching swamp.  And yet, the creativity of our state democrats seems boundless when tasked with expanding the perks afforded to public unions.  Those now effectively include tax credits, as public sector union members will be subject to the payroll tax only if they negotiate themselves into coverage.  It is as though Connecticut woke up in a Credence Clearwater Revival Song, except all of the Fortunate Sons are born to public unions.  What I wouldn’t give for such choices.  Perhaps we can form a public taxpayers’ union.

But such is the system of rewards in Connecticut.  Outsized generosity to public sector unions begets generosity to legislators, which begets additional generosity to unions, and so forth.  History suggests that additional bureaucracy will be viewed as necessary to administer this new benefit, and what better way to reward one’s union benefactors than to offer them a coveted bureaucratic role?  It is as though the public sector union class has become the patrician class, and Lamont our very own Caesar.  (We who are about to be taxed to death salute you!)

I’m not holding my breath for a plebeian tribune.  But it would be wonderful if the legislative majority stopped treating everyone who is not a public sector union member as a second-class citizen.  A little equality goes a long way.

As it happens, we could learn a lot from the Romans’ successes and mistakes.  About the only thing the current Democrat-controlled state government has not yet proposed is a Publicani, but I don’t put it past them.  What they should take away from Roman history, if nothing else, is the potential economic benefit of a limited, fair, and relatively flat approach to taxation.  Augustus recognized this and saw considerable economic expansion.  Contrast Diocletion and Constantine, who on reflection must be the role models for Connecticut Democrats.


Irina Comer


8 responses to “Some are more equal than others in CT”

  1. Piberman

    CT Democrats continue to send “clarion calls” to the greater business community by raising costs. As befits the only State in the nation with a decade long stagnant economy/employment now entering its 2nd decade. Reportedly Gov. Lamont recently met with business leaders asking for “advise” on how to restart CT’s economy. No recommendations for continued “tax and spend”. So we know the future – continued Exodus and scarcity of good jobs outside the public sector.

  2. Elsa Peterson Obuchowski

    I’ve read this piece a couple of times and I am still not sure specifically why the writer objects to the FMLA as applied to public sector union employees.
    According to an article in Governing.com, “Connecticut workers at firms of one or more employee will be eligible for paid time off to care for a newborn, a newly adopted or foster child, a seriously ill relative by blood or marriage or a close associate who is the equivalent of a family member. Employees dealing with their own serious health conditions or who are serving as a marrow or organ donor will also be eligible.”
    Later, the article says “Unionized public employees are exempt, although their unions can negotiate to participate in the program.”

  3. Concerned

    There are reasons to believe that unions get special perks but this is not one of them.

    Ask any teacher who is a mother if she’s happy with her school’s paid leave policy, and you’ll find significant anger because teachers, a profession with a lot of working parents, now have the worst parental leave policy in the state. Teachers are basically being required to use sick days, and if you have a baby your first or second year, sorry you haven’t accrued enough days so you have to get back to work or go unpaid, and even if you do have enough sick days I believe you’re capped at 6 weeks home with your newborn before it goes unpaid.

    That’s not great. I think most teachers would be happy to participate in this program (and it would probably make the program slightly more expensive because teachers have more kids). I’m not sure but my guess is this was carved out due to complications with reopening the teacher contract and because they want to revamp the sick day policy when they do.

    You are effectively arguing that teachers are SOOO lucky not to have paid parental leave in return for a .5% income tax – if I were a teacher I’d much rather be included because that’s a much better program than what they have now.

    Again – not everything is some amazing giveaway to teachers. This piece is light on facts and strong on ranting about unions. Disappointing.

  4. Ron Morris

    I am a bit confused . It seems that you hate everything the Democrats do and stand for you blame the Democrats for everything, yet you are a long time registered Democrat. Please explain.

  5. Irina Comer

    The general point is that Democrats created a system in which unionized public employees from different lines of service get a different treatment or carveouts compared to everyone else. And this is not ok. This means effectively that we have 2 classes of CT citizens. There might be a lot of excuses (difficult to re-open contracts, it’s up to unions, etc) but those excuses just illustrate the point that there two classes od citizens indeed. And while everyone else doesn’t have a choice, unions do. There are a lot of other terms and provisions in this law that will most probably make non sustainable and there were a lot of articles about it as well.

  6. Bryan Meek

    Anyone who thinks the teacher contract isn’t fair, has never read it. I value our teachers, but trust me no one has benefits like we do anywhere. Sad thing is, it was written by a few people to only benefit a few people years and years ago and under CT law its almost impossible to change it over night. It’s taking time but we are working out the kinks so that it is fair to all stakeholders…teachers, parents, students, and yes taxpayers.

  7. Tony P

    Irina, just an FYI – This bill exempts public sector unions from accessing the paid FMLA, but I believe it’s still deducted from their checks.

  8. Bryan Meek

    Tony, it’s the exact opposite. They get FMLA without the payroll deduction. Even New York charges their public sector workers. That’s how far we’ve sunk to the bottom here. Plus we are giving 12 weeks. RI has 4, CA has 6, NY 10., but…….

    It doesn’t really matter, the program is already bankrupt and it hasn’t even started yet. The 0.5% income tax only funds a fraction of what this is going to cost and that’s before the Legislature steals the money for other goodies.

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