Carrying signs that read "Support UConn" and “Respect Collective Bargaining,” approximately 300 University of Connecticut staff and students rallied outside the Legislative Office Building to protest proposed cuts to the university included in the bipartisan budget passed by the legislature. Former UConn graduate employee union president, Todd Vachon led the crowd in chanting “tax the rich” and called for raising taxes on hedge funds and Connecticut’s top income earners.
According to the new budget proposal released today, state employee fringe benefit costs - including pensions and retiree health benefits - will grow by more than $222 million. Overall, the new general fund budget will grow $214 million and a number of agencies took multi-million dollar cuts to make up for the increase in fringe benefit costs, including a $14 million cut to the Office of Early Childhood’s Care 4 Kids program.
With the state facing a $3.5 billion budget hole and the legislature unable to reach a budget agreement, Gov. Dannel Malloy put forth a revised budget which offers a mix of smaller tax increases and municipal cuts. The governor’s "compromise" budget offers some mandate relief to municipalities but would require towns to pay a portion of teacher pensions, albeit less than his original budget proposal.
Governor Dannel Malloy released his executive order allocating state funds to towns and cities on Friday, zeroing out education funds for 85 towns across Connecticut. The order also eliminated payment-in-lieu-of-taxes for hospitals, colleges and state owned property, and casino revenue grants.
Connecticut spent more money than it took in for 10 out of 13 years, according to a long-term state analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts. Overall, Connecticut was one of only eleven states that were consistently in the red because they “carried forward deferred costs of past services, including debt and unfunded public employee retirement liabilities, which could constrain their future fiscal options,” the report said.
On the same day that state employee unions announced the ratification of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s concessions deal by union rank and file, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, held a press conference saying the concessions deal is “tying the hands of the Connecticut taxpayers for the next ten years.”