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A few weeks ago Connecticut passed a budget containing $2.6 billion in tax hikes on alcohol, tobacco, hotels, sales, and estates. At that time Governor Dannel Malloy “demanded” $2 billion in concessions from the public employee unions. Fast forward to this week…On Tuesday it was announced that the Governor only got $1.6 billion in concessions spread over the next two years and has precariously locked state taxpayers into a sweetheart union agreement that will run until 2022.
In short, the state agreed to take more money from the pockets of state’s taxpayers in order to further protect government employees and the public union’s political coffers for years to come.
Union negotiator Dan Livingston was quoted in the Connecticut Post as saying that “the toughest concession, in terms of money coming directly out of workers’ pockets, is a two-year wage freeze worth $138.8 million in 2012 and $309.5 million in 2013. In return, Malloy agreed to three percent raises each of the following three years and a four-year, no-layoff guarantee for current SEBAC employees.”
Let’s think about this for a minute. So the union’s “big concession” is that they will forego two years of pay increases, which considering the fiscal situation of the state should have been a no brainer regardless. In return the unions have secured automatic 3-percent raises after two years and unreasonable job security for the next four years.
What this plan doesn’t do is deal with the long term public worker costs that the state will be liable for until at least 2022. The retirement age was only raised by 2 years and they workers will still be allowed include overtime pay to inflate the calculations of their pension benefits. Even more egregious is that their gold plated health care packages, which are currently saddling the state with a $29 billion unfunded liability was barely even touched.
Well unfortunately public unions in Connecticut do. Even with lawmakers in states like Ohio and Wisconsin beginning to restrain public sector benefits, the road to restraining the growth and costs of the public workforce is a long one.
Until government employees are treated more like those in the private sector (ie. defined-contribution pension plans, etc) our government will continue to be inefficient and overly expensive to run.