The line item for state employee pensions is one of the fastest-growing items in the state budget. This year, the state will contribute $1.5 billion - almost ten percent of the General Fund - to the state employee pension fund, which still won’t be enough to put a dent in the unfunded liabilities. According to new information released by the Yankee Institute on its website CTSunlight.org, 885 retirees received pensions over $100,000 in 2015 -- including 12 who earned pensions over $200,000 a year.
Connecticut lawmakers face high legal hurdles if they want to reform health benefits for retired state workers, according to a new study from the Manhattan Institute. A 2002 Connecticut Supreme Court decision set the precedent, ruling that retiree health benefits could not be changed when a collective bargaining contract ends. However, this precedent contradicts a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Several state union representatives spent more than half of the year working for their unions while still getting paid by the state, driving up overtime costs and putting an extra burden on the state budget. The year of 2015 contained 261 working days but Ronald J. McLellan, president of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent SEIU local 511, spent 201 of those days on union leave. He earned $111,000 in pay and fringe benefits from the state while working for the union, and continued to keep his title of lead power plant operator at Central Connecticut State University.
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.