As Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state legislature grapples with rising costs from unfunded pension liabilities, some Connecticut cities and towns have managed to tackle their own pension problems head on. Municipalities like Danbury, Norwalk, Stratford and South Windsor have switched from defined benefit retirement plans to 401(k) style plans and changing retiree healthcare packages to stem the long-term costs to the towns.
Welcome to the Connecticut Municipal Employee Retirement System (CMERS), a state-run pension plan for local public employees that’s a little like the Hotel California: Once you’re in, good luck getting out. This state restriction on towns in CMERS stands in the way of reforms that would make retirement benefits for municipal employees safer and more sustainable – and it should be repealed.
Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and the Hartford Courant have recently called attention to legislators using mileage reimbursement to increase their compensation and pad their pensions. There were 251 working days in 2015. Legislators who received mileage reimbursement claimed anywhere from 1 to 245 trips from their hometown to the capitol. Yankee Institute obtained the mileage and reimbursement figures for all state senator and representatives through a Freedom of Information request.
This year, Connecticut lawmakers have the opportunity to show that they are committed to bringing jobs and prosperity back to our state. That starts with saying “no” to another tax increase, and “yes” to dismantling the barriers that hobble job and economic growth. During the 2017 legislative session, the Yankee Institute will be working with legislators, state officials and stakeholders in the following areas
Among the troubled roots is Connecticut’s inability to sufficiently reduce spending, which has hurt the state’s fiscal health. In the most recent fiscal health analysis put out by some of the nation’s most reliable economic researchers, Connecticut shows vast room for improvement. In the Pew Charitable Trust’s research titled Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis, Connecticut did not fare well compared to its neighbors. Of particular note is the state’s depleted reserves; Connecticut’s reserves would allow the state to operate for a projected 8.3 days.
Regional coordinators for the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security are receiving municipal pensions while employed by the state of Connecticut and driving state vehicles, including Emergency Management Director William J. Hackett. Hackett retired as chief of the Branford Fire Department and president of the union local of the International Association of Firefighters before being appointed to the position in 2006. Hackett receives a disability pension in the amount of $45,175.80 per year.