In response to Gov. Dannel Malloy's planned budget cuts, the SEIU, District 1199, released a television ad Monday featuring some of its members declaring that they are “not a political football.” However, based on some of the salary and benefit packages these workers received it would appear they have already scored a touchdown.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget will get torn to pieces over the next two months by lawmakers and special interests. Let’s take a time out to acknowledge one subtle but important improvement in Malloy’s proposal. Currently, each state agency budget has responsibility for its payroll, but not the fringe benefits for its employees. Instead healthcare and pension contributions fall under their own department, comptroller non-functional. By separating responsibility for pay and benefits, we get unintended and less-than-ideal results.
We at the Yankee Institute support the Governor’s budget plan. We know it is a bitter pill. Like you, we agonize over the hardships it will impose on some of the most vulnerable residents of our state. But even so, we have concluded that, at this point, it is necessary to make these difficult cuts in order to put the state back on a more sustainable path.
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.
An audit of the State Comptroller’s Office reveals that Connecticut has not been using Generally Accepted Accounting Practice as required by law. By applying GAAP standards, the audit found that Connecticut’s net position is negative $35.3 billion, $22.7 billion further in the red than reported in 2014.
Recent news reports confirm what many have suspected for some time — young people are leaving Connecticut. How does this relate to pension debt? As a current graduate student who would like to stay in Connecticut after I finish school, I’ll explain. The state has accumulated billions of dollars of pension debt, and now it is trying to figure out how to pay that debt off.