‘Course Change Needed’ as State Overtime Costs Soar
Connecticut is on pace to spend a record $319 million on state employee overtime in fiscal 2023, a 20% increase over the previous high set just last year.
State agencies spent $159.5 million on overtime through the first six months of this fiscal year, up $17.6 million (11%) over the same period in 2022.
Connecticut spends a higher share of its payroll on overtime than neighboring states—over 11% of the total in 2022, compared with 5% in Massachusetts, 4.7% in New York, and New Jersey’s 4.2%
Costs hit a 10-year low in 2017, following passage of legislation requiring quarterly disclosures of agency spending.
Since then, however, spending increased every year, hitting $228.2 million in 2018, $234.3 million in 2019, $234.9 in 2020, and $239.9 million the following year before spiking in 2022.
Overtime spending has significant implications for taxpayers as it is among the factors used for calculating state employee pensions.
Failing to control overtime spending places additional pressure on the state’s long-term liabilities burden, one of the highest per capita in the country.
The 2021 CREATES report commissioned by the Lamont administration to evaluate workforce efficiency and identify potential spending reductions proposed a number of recommendations targeting overtime costs.
The report noted that while some overtime “is good due to its inevitability as need for workers sometimes varies,” Connecticut “must bring these costs more in line with neighboring states, such as Massachusetts and New York, where the levels of overtime for the same types of services are lower.”
“I fear the report’s recommendations, which represent hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer savings, are becoming a lost opportunity,” said CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima.
“We have seen positive effects—providing better service with less resources—with the modernization of systems and processes at a number of state agencies.
“We need to change course. While additional resources are needed in some agencies, we cannot afford to let overtime costs make these major, costly jumps every year when there are real solutions on the table.”
Overtime Spending: Top Five Agencies
|Department||FY 2023 Overtime*||FY 2022 Overtime**||$ Difference||% Difference|
|Correction||$56.8 million||$48.5 million||$8.3 million||17.2%|
|Mental Health & Addiction Services||$31.9 million||$28.3 million||$3.6 million||12.7%|
|Emergency Services & Public Protection||$24.2 million||$23.5 million||$769,459||3.3%|
|Developmental Services||$22.5 million||$22.7 million||($152,798)||-0.7%|
|Children & Families||$9.6 million||$9 million||$589,672||6.5%|
*July 1, 2022-Dec. 31, 2022. **July 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2021. Source: State Office of Fiscal Analysis.
Prison Population Drops, Costs Jump
Five state agencies accounted for 91% of all overtime spending through the first six months of both fiscal 2022 and 2023.
The Department of Correction led all agencies, spending $56.8 million in the first half of 2023—36% of all state agency overtime—a 17.2% increase over the same period in 2022.
That’s despite the state’s prison population hitting a four-decade low last year.
However, while Connecticut’s prison population declined 44% between 2012 and 2022, DOC overtime costs are on pace to hit $113.6 million this year, a 55% jump since 2013.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced last month the state will close Willard Correctional Institution April 1, with an expected annual $6.5 million savings in operating costs.
“Because spending millions annually to operate facilities for a population that is significantly smaller than just a few years ago is not a good use of taxpayer money, Connecticut is continuing to right-size its correction system to concentrate resources more effectively,” Lamont said in a statement.
Willard is the third prison to close in the last two years, with the Northern Correctional Institution and Radgowski Correctional Center both shuttered in 2021.
Among the other top agency spenders, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services spent $31.9 million on overtime through the first half of fiscal 2023, up 12.7% over the same period in 2022.
Overtime spending at the Department of Emergency Services and Public Services increased 3.3% in the first half of 2023 and 6.5% at the Department of Children and Families.
The Department of Developmental Services was the only agency of the big five to reduce overtime costs, which fell 0.7% to $22.5 million through December.
Fiscal year-to-date spending at all other state agencies increased $4.5 million (46%) to $14.3 million.
The Department of Social Services posted the largest increase of those agencies, with costs jumping by $3.5 million (153%) to $5.7 million.
Through the first six months of fiscal 2023, 15,256 state employees were paid overtime—down 830 from the same period in fiscal 2022—with an average payment of $10,453, up more than 18%.
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