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State employees settlement costs Connecticut $18 million this year

The settlement of a 2003 lawsuit by the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition against Gov. John Rowland has increased the Connecticut budget deficit by $18 million according to figures released by the Office of Fiscal Analysis.

The OFA estimated a $20.8 million shortfall at the Office of the State Comptroller due to adjudicated claims. “Approximately $18 million of the projected deficiency is for estimated payments for the SEBAC v. Rowland Settlement.”

The lawsuit was settled for $100 million in 2015 after twelve years of deliberation. SEBAC filed suit after Rowland laid off 2,800 state employees in 2002. SEBAC claimed that Rowland unfairly targeted union employees.

Although the case was originally dismissed by U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello, a federal court of appeals ruled against Rowland and the Connecticut legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted to accept the results.

The $100 million settlement is being paid with a combination of cash and extra vacation days to both current and former employees, including those were not laid off in 2002.

The OFA’s deficit projection of $54.3 million was higher than the Office of Policy and Management, which had predicted a shortfall of $29.5 million for 2017.

In addition to the SEBAC settlement, the OFA noted several other agency deficits:

  • The Office of Early Childhood will be $16.8 million short due to continuing deficiencies from 2016 and expansion of the Care4Kids program
  • $13 million at the State Treasurer’s Office due to debt service
  • $3.6 million at the Public Defenders Services Commission despite cutting their staff by 40 positions
  • $276,608 at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

Nearly 200 attorneys at the Public Defenders Services division of the Judicial Department voted to join the American Federation of State and Municipal Employees on October 28 after a mail in vote.

The public defenders vote to unionize comes on the heels of the state’s assistant attorneys general voting to join the American Federation of Teachers in mid-October.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was cut by 11 percent to help fill the state’s budget deficit. The OCME became entangled in a dispute with municipalities over responsibility for unclaimed remains in July. The OCME said they faced a 50 percent increase in caseload but could no longer offer certain services due to the cuts.

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Marc E. Fitch

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