Currently, lawmakers get the same benefits that state employees receive through contract negotiations. This gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. Instead, lawmakers should repeal this law and set their benefits separate from benefits for other state employees. Similarly, state employees in management receive the same benefits as those set by collective-bargaining agreements. Even the negotiators sitting across the table from the unions get the same benefits. Lawmakers should set the benefits of any state employees not covered by collective-bargaining agreements separately from unionized employees and by statute.
While the saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is true, so is the opposite – if something isn’t working, then fix it. From watching sports, we know the rules of a game can determine its outcome. Better rules in Hartford could help change up the results we get from our legislative process.
The number of people working or looking for work in Connecticut, known as the labor force, decreased by about 3,000 people, according to the latest jobs numbered released Monday by the state Department of Labor. And despite some job gains in 2015, the state still has not recovered all of the jobs lost during the 2008 recession, unlike the nation as a whole and most other states. For example, Massachusetts recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession by Jan. 2013, and is now up 6 percent compared to its pre-recession peak.
Connecticut spent $119 million on state employee overtime during the first six months of fiscal year 2016, but that number does not include overtime for employees in the Departments of Transportation or Motor Vehicles. Citing “availability” and “reliability” issues with the data, the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) said it could only provide overtime numbers for employees paid through the state’s General Fund. That rules out DOT or DMV employees, who are paid through the Special Transportation Fund.
The cost of building a rail line between New Haven and Springfield, Mass., continues to rise, even as transportation needs in Fairfield County go unmet. At its most recent meeting, the State Bond Commission approved another $155 million for the railway line connecting New Haven, Hartford and Western Massachusetts.
This week the state legislature met to undo some of the damage that they did during the last legislative session. In the late evening on Tuesday, after several hours of debate, lawmakers approved a deficit mitigation package by votes of 20-15 in the Senate, and 75-65 in the House. A few Democrats joined all Republicans legislators in voting against the bill.