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Yankee Institute Policy Position: Gov. Lamont should suspend the scheduled pay increases for state employees

Yankee Institute recognizes the valuable service of many Connecticut state employees during the Covid-19 public health crisis, including doctors, nurses, Department of Correction officers, Department of Labor employees and first responders. We are grateful for their courageous work on behalf of Connecticut’s people.  

However, in light of the pandemic’s potential implications for the state budget, Yankee Institute recommends that Gov. Ned Lamont suspend a scheduled wage increase for state employees — totaling roughly $353 million — until the state is in a position to better understand the economic and fiscal fallout of this crisis. 

It would be irresponsible for our elected leaders to force the closure of countless businesses throughout Connecticut — jeopardizing the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people — while increasing the salaries of state employees, as hard-working and important as some of them are during this difficult time. 

The pay increase set for July, which includes a 3.5 percent general wage increase combined with an annual step increase valued roughly at 2 percent, is the second raise state employees will receive in as many years under the terms of the 2017 SEBAC Agreement. 

The vast majority of Connecticut state employees are protected from layoffs until June of 2021, under the terms of the SEBAC agreement.  

The unprecedented public health and economic crisis posed by Covid-19 has imposed an enormous financial and social strain on families and businesses. It will result in the state of Connecticut confronting multiple challenges, including much lower tax revenue coupled with increased unemployment and Medicaid costs to help those who have been put out of work and those in need.  

These extensive costs will inevitably fall upon the taxpayers of Connecticut in the future.  

Until state officials have a better understanding of the true fiscal impact of this crisis, it would be a mistake to guarantee a second 5.5 percent increase in the cost of Connecticut’s labor force, thereby placing the state and taxpayers under additional fiscal and financial strain. 

Even as nonessential businesses have been forced to close and their employees file for unemployment benefits, nonessential employees who work for the state continue to receive pay and benefits.  

Suspending the scheduled pay increase is a sensible measure, one that the governors of New York and Virginia have already implemented. It is a reasonable sacrifice by state government at a time when the private sector workers of Connecticut have been forced to sacrifice much, much more. 

All the people of Connecticut – including those working for the government – are in this together and these profoundly uncertain times require shared sacrifice by all, including government. 

We share in the hope of many government leaders that when this crisis passes, there will be a robust economic rebound, but fiscal policy cannot be guided by hope. As a state, we must hope for the best but prepare for the worst. 

For these reasons, we recommend Gov. Lamont consider suspending the scheduled wage increases until the state better understands the fiscal fallout of this unprecedented pandemic and has devised budgetary solutions that do not involve raising taxes on state residents or businesses, who have already suffered enough.    

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(37) Comments

  1. W L

    June 11, 2020 11:07 am

    During this time of economic turmoil I agree with suspending all and any state wages (from the top down). Every department should be reviewed, and if necessary, the number of employees decreased (from management to clerical workers) – if employees are not necessary then they need to go – the taxpayers do not need to be funding any unnecessary employees. Many others are suffering while state employees want, want, want (not all but many). While a good majority of state workers have retained their employment by being able to work at home there are far many more who have become unemployed and face the possibility of eventually not having a job. However, I disagree with the extra $600 week PUA unemployment on top of state unemployment + the stimulus payment – that amounts to a hefty sum of money even though it is scheduled to end in July. What about lower income seniors or disabled – they ARE NOT GETTING ANYTHING EXTRA – they can barely survive as many are “just over” the so called income cap by only a few dollars – and now have to face either paying rent, buying food or getting the prescriptions. This should not be happening in Connecticut. And if state employees and their unions refuse to agree to suspend wage increases then furloughs and cutbacks should be the next quick route.

    • Sara Mavredakis

      June 14, 2020 11:03 am

      Just remember those state employee included the nurses who kept your families alive….

  2. Paul Oberhaus

    April 23, 2020 4:13 pm

    https://portal.ct.gov/AG/Opinions/2002-Formal-Opinions/Honorable-Kevin-Sullivan-Legislative-Office-Building-2002013-Formal-Opinion-Attorney-General-of-Conn

    The governor knows he cannot create, modify, make, or repeal any laws. His EOs do exactly that. Separation of powers. Its part of our state constitution..noted in the last virus “emergency”…see AG opinion link provided and read it for yourself. Governor can only “takes steps” per CGS Sec. 28-9 … not make or modify laws. Only the legislature can do that. Steps does not equal “make laws”. Law school 101 stuff here.

    • Jack C

      April 24, 2020 1:42 pm

      You neglect to mention your step increases, which for the rest of workers, would be considered a raise. Don’t mislead people!

  3. Woodie

    April 23, 2020 3:48 pm

    Are U staying home and safe….. we’re still going to work…. keeping the roads safe.

  4. Mac

    April 23, 2020 10:01 am

    The state and public should realize we (state workers) are still working during these tragic times. Governor Lamont should also mention he will receive or has already received government funding for the COVID-19 expenses!!! So don’t use this tragic event to line your pockets from harding employees. In 10 years of service I received 3 rises and had to give back a rise and takes many furlongs without pay!!! We have contract why don’t you stick to it.

    • Jack C

      April 24, 2020 1:44 pm

      Stop misleading the taxpayers! Your annual step increases are raises—u are looking for a raise on top of a raise! Get real pal!

      • Jon Brown

        May 21, 2020 12:41 pm

        What happens when you don’t get a step,oh no raise like the past 3years and I only been here for 5years for the people who have been here longer it’s worst.How about freezing the rate of prevailing wages,which I see get there raise every year,another example of the rich get richer.And by the way I have reached out to politicians on this and get no reply,maybe you can give me a contact who will reply back.And for the record we get cost of living in July 3.5% not a step also ,that’s in January.

  5. Union member

    April 23, 2020 2:31 am

    The corporate world has the youth of america believing they can strive financially on there own without being in a union.
    Corporate pays the fools just enough to make it week to week
    no benefits
    no pensions
    fired for little or no reason
    now the virus got the non union worker bees crying for food only a couple weeks out of work …..Ha!
    yet the corporate world makes billions
    chocking out small ma and pa shops
    Go social isolate non union ; dummies big brother got you by the balls
    too late now
    hahahaha
    we’ll get our raises …. WERE NOT SCABS
    Go kiss the bosses butt its what you do best
    you think we haven’t noticed ?
    we have !
    how you like me now !?

  6. Thad Stewart

    April 21, 2020 6:39 am

    The funny reality is, if the dumbo crats did not buy their votes, no one would ever vote for them. Two sad reflections in the mirror, the demo rats, and the mental midgets that are easily steered.

  7. Steven Stiller

    April 19, 2020 2:12 am

    The state employees work for the tax payers and I think that during these trying times the raises should be put on hold

    • Frontline Worker

      April 20, 2020 4:42 pm

      I notice that the author of this article highlighted the “raises” state employees received last year and will receive this year; but made no mention of the 5 years of “hard zeros” (no raises) those same employees have endured since 2009.

    • Frontline Worker

      April 21, 2020 10:37 am

      The last time I checked, weren’t state employees ALSO tax payers?!?! So aren’t they contributing the exact SAME money towards their own raises, the raises of all state employees and essential goods and services as YOU and everyone else???

      • I hate ignorance

        April 22, 2020 8:40 pm

        Coming form some one who is probably at home, not in the face of this COVID-19! Not having to worry about bringing this stuff home to your family. I think they should get the raise, the work that they do makes your life Easier. So tell me why they should get it. What about the they 400million they gave back in the last contract?

      • State employee

        April 22, 2020 10:13 pm

        State employees, well, highway maintainers do not make a fortune so idk where that idea is even coming from? After I pay ct taxes like everyone else in the state, my income for the month barely just gets me by after paying a mortgage and supporting my family.

      • Mike m

        April 23, 2020 2:03 pm

        State workers deserve that raise because they haven’t had one for three years prior the yankee Institute ran by the coak brothers can suck it their wourth billlions they new to give the workers the raise another ploy to keep the rich richer and the little man down they deserve it that’s it Lamont pay your people they put you their to have their back not follow the rich

        • Aline Dynder

          April 25, 2020 9:11 am

          Millions of workers are out of work, businesses are closing, people are seeking food from food banks and some are unable to pay most of their bills. With the economy free falling, some CEO’s are forgoing their salaries, others are taking only 1/2 and giving the other 1/2 to unemployed. Government cannot get revenue from sales and gas taxes so CT has less . With all this in mind , how can CT – Gov Lamont- be fiscally responsible in giving state employees a 5.5 percent raise even after they received an increase last year. We understand that people work hard, but so have so many others who are out of work! At this stage of our CRISIS, we feel a raise is irresponsible to give at this time. Workers should be happy to be able to keep their jobs. During a booming economy.. raises or step increases are reasonable… NOT NOW. Please keep our government going for all people not just those who have government jobs.

    • Tim Hill

      April 22, 2020 8:20 pm

      Our raises have been on hold for about 1/2 of my 23 yr career! Including numerous givebacks with furlough days, hefty cuts in insurance and pension benefits!! If you, as an other employee, had to deal with these cuts, you probably would have left for other employment. I signed on at a huge discount from my previous employment for the benefits, but I’ve been at the behest of taxpayers and Democrats for years, even though I also pay taxes and am in the same financial position as every other CT resident!!Im tired of state employees being the whipping boy for every left leaning, poorly managed finanancial institution in this state!! We have a job to do, and if we didn’t do it, the residents of this state would be screaming bloody murder!!!

    • Ron Graves

      April 22, 2020 8:21 pm

      I think you should all check your facts and look at the past 15 years of employee give backs. I worked in Harms way through this entire pandemic with no complaints. It’s a 3.5 % raise and well earned, not 5% with step. Stop exaggerating and be fair to the state employees that do work hard.

  8. Thad Stewart

    April 16, 2020 4:47 pm

    First and foremost, this granting of raises needs to stop. These people work for us. We need to decide when pay increases occur. Not the fox guarding the hen house. Second, if Lying Ned even mentions the word TOLLS after this catastrophe, he needs to be physically removed from office. How much are the taxpayers going to take from the “I Bankrupt States Party” before a revolt ensues?

    • Another hard working statie

      June 7, 2020 4:22 pm

      One writer said state employees should get raises during good times. Had that been true why did the state employees have to lose 4 years of any type of raise. The yankee institute opposes every raise employees ever received, now they suggest the state just hold off till things are robust, what if robust never happens or if we allow the institute or the guy that says eliminate all raises decide what would be fair ? We made concessions, we saved the state budget, we lost coworkers and we waited patiently. Time for those raises. Next year 16,000 employees are retiring. First will come the cheers for shrinking the workforce, followed days later saying we can’t possibly pay these pensions.

  9. State employee

    April 15, 2020 7:10 pm

    As a state worker I understand that vast devastation of our economy. I personally would be willing to giving back my raise with guaranteed protections for a couple more years. Its so difficult for whenever the state is in a financial crisis it get blamed upon us. The pension fund crisis stated in the 80’s and no governors made them contributed to their pensions. Therefore when they retired early ” thanks Governor Rell” at 55 we all are stuck paying their pensions. Please remember 3 percent of my bi-weekly pay goes to their pension fund. In addition to my high taxes like every other person in the state of CT. My pension isn’t abnormal…I only get 33 percent of my high 3 years. So I might get 33,000 a years when I retired. Please remember that current state employees aren’t rich and a contributing to the sins of the past just like the general public. In addition to in my case maybe 150 to 200 dollar bi-weekly as well for 10 years. I wasn’t even born when those people got hired.

    • Joe

      April 19, 2020 12:31 am

      Wow a whopping 3% for 3/4 million dollar payout with COLA AND free health care. Stifle yourself.

      • john ryan

        May 12, 2020 6:42 pm

        yeah I am not a state employee but know of them and was told that state employees 2011 and on do not get free health care. they will also not get a cola when they retire if hired after 2011, so there is misinformation being spread among the public. Just remember it wasn’t state employees that decided to close the state down.

    • Tim Hill

      April 22, 2020 8:22 pm

      Well said!!!

    • Roger dodger

      April 23, 2020 7:29 am

      Just saying as a Board of Finance member for local government I made this argument to suspend pay increases not on the books until further notice (they wanted nearly 10%), and I was harshly met by community members, tax payers and town employees.

      Why is it that the burden always falls upon state workers. I have been working for the state since 2007 and have been overly abused by statements such as this article. It’s always our fault and responsibility. My pay has been relatively stagnant and my benefits have been costing me more and more and I get less and less.

      You don’t think we know there is a crisis? There other ways of saving money…stop building $300 million dollar buildings and upgrading facilities for the time being, the building won’t turn to dust in the next 12-24 months.

      I put my life at risk in my job everyday just to save taxpayers money. How about some gratitude rather than spitting in our faces! We take care of the state, and for the most part we are vastly concerned with doing our jobs responsibly and professionally.

      Last I checked, I pay taxes too, State and Local.

  10. f w baldwin

    April 15, 2020 4:56 pm

    The Wuhan Flu crisis gives Lamont a chance to prove he’s not Malloy’s playtoy and
    cancel that budget busting gift to his minions.

    • Victor Mendoza

      April 23, 2020 5:36 am

      Interesting comment coming from another TRUM “PETS” during a pandemic crisis costing tens of thousands of life and the lack of basic swift leadership and accountability skills like his Republican counter parts. Always the the first one to complain when the s*** hits the fan then the first one to complain when the responder get composated.

  11. Barry

    April 15, 2020 2:56 pm

    Ridiculous! Over paid now, we can’t pay their pension and we should not! Break the union contract and give them a portion in a lump sum when they retire at an age of least 60 years old. If they strike hire new ones and fire them! We don’t need them start over with new employees with no pension! All companies are doing it because they can’t afford it! Neither can we, they can start their own 401k and save their own money and collect their lump sum at 60 years plus with the stipulation they cannot be rehired! Take your money and go! C’mon Governor it’s time take action, no more hand outs they keep their hourly and medical benefits! Time to stop the bleeding our great state of Connecticut.

    • Frontline Worker

      April 20, 2020 4:46 pm

      You’ll be the first a**hole complaining when your street isn’t paved or your garbage isn’t collected. SMH

      • Tim Hill

        April 22, 2020 8:23 pm

        Yup!!

    • Roger dodger

      April 23, 2020 7:53 am

      In response to Barry’s statement that State Employees are over paid.

      That’s just called corporate greed. Where do you think the phrase 1%’s came from. 99% of wealth to the lower and middle class -hardly. It’s the fault of greed and envy to blame for traditional employees losing their pensions so that CEOs can bank of their hard work.

      Before I even see a dime my paycheck is burdened with a 45% tax and fee split. Add that to the local taxes not controlled by State and that tacks on an additional 8.3%. Still think we are still playing an unfair wage game? Those were 2 to 3 year ago numbers, I’m sure it’s only gone up.

      I will agree that there are some employees who are paid way to much. Again not the typical employee but the upper managements.

      Just saying I’ve yet to see 6 figure pay in a job where I can easily double or triple my pay if I worked for a private entity. I don’t complain, I love what I do and I love helping save the taxpayers by doing it. What I do saves taxpayers $90k per job (what was previously being charged by corporate entities)- times that by 100. That’s my yearly savings to you and me!

  12. THOMAS J WHALEN

    April 14, 2020 7:28 pm

    I definitely agree with your idea of suspending the raises. The problem is that Gov. Lamont protects the state workers and the union in return for votes when he runs for his current position again in November. Not even a pandemic can alter his personal agenda. Its truly very, very sad that the taxpayers have to put up with his self interests.

    • Barry Denison

      April 15, 2020 2:59 pm

      Vote him out and elect someone that is not afraid to go against the union

    • f w baldwin

      April 15, 2020 10:18 pm

      That’s the way Corrupticut operates,the Demonrats need to
      keep people on their payroll to guarantee them and their families votes.
      Bribery of the first order.

      • Joshua

        April 22, 2020 8:36 pm

        Hello intelligent people the funny thing is the DOT employees don’t even have the right to strike that’s one thing I have never understood what kind of Leverage does a unionized employee have when they are not even provided the proper tools to negotiate to be honest it’s quite embarrassing why do you think our contract always goes to arbitration seems a little one sided how can you ever strike a deal or a bargain when the playing field isn’t fair

    • Victor Mendoza

      April 23, 2020 5:28 am

      Interesting comment coming from another TRUM”PETS” during a pandemic crisis costing tens of thousands of life and the lack of basic swift leadership and accountability skills like his Republican counter parts.

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