Bigger state deficit projections this week are putting deeper into question a possible multi-year pay raise for nearly 2,000 University of Connecticut employees, and the pattern the pact could set for several other state labor contracts to follow.
UConn is facing a projected budget deficit of about $38 million, but a proposed five-year contract would increase the pay of the university’s employees over the next five years by a total of $33.9 million:
- 2% pay increase and 1% merit increase (2017)
- 5% pay and merit increase (2018-2022)
Employees’ work weeks would increase from 35 hours per week to 40 hours under the contract.
The Appropriations Committee rendered a split decision on the potential raises, which are the first of many labor contracts lawmakers will consider this year.
The committee held two separate votes on Senate (SR-4) and House (HR-3) resolutions that contained the new UConn contract.
The Senate members of the committee failed to approve their resolution in an extraordinary 6-6 vote—the first time in memory that any state legislative body had rejected a state labor contract.
The tie vote means the contract will go to the Senate floor with an “unfavorable” recommendation.
House members of the committee, however, approved their resolution on a 24-19 vote.
If neither the House nor Senate take action to reject the contract by March 9, the pact will go into effect.
Connecticut taxpayers deserve votes of the full Senate and House, given the state’s financial difficulties and the magnitude of the contract.
Many members of the Appropriations Committee were skeptical about the pay increases at a time when both the university and the state are facing significant budget deficits.
In his session-opening State of the State address, Gov. Malloy said Connecticut faced a “new economic reality,” as he proposed significant spending cuts and a likely reduction in the state workforce.
But he also ruled out any more tax increases at this time.
Responding to the school’s budget deficit, UConn’s board last December approved a 31% tuition hike over the next four years, with an average annual increase of about 7%.
“State government must reset our expectations of what we can afford, how we provide services, and how we save for our priorities,” Gov. Malloy told legislators.