Union Concessions: Last Chance for Real Spending Cuts?

05.11.2011
Issues & Policies

Are the current concession negotiations between the Malloy administration and Connecticut’s state employee unions a one-time shot for achieving meaningful, sustainable spending cuts?
That’s the premise of an interesting piece published today in the CT MIrror.
Writer Mark Pazniokas suggests Gov. Dannel Malloy may not again get the opportunity “to achieve a top priority of permanently shrinking two long-term labor costs: pensions and retiree healthcare.”
Pazniokas noted that the current contracts governing state employee health and benefits expire in 2017, three years after the next gubernatorial election.
CBIA maintains making state government leaner and more cost-effective is the first step toward restoring economic growth in Connecticut.
CBIA’s Joe Brennan told the Mirror that the current economic situation prompted an examination of rising pension costs.
“We hope the combination of economic and fiscal problems would generate enough pressure to make those substantive changes, not temporary fixes,” Brennan said.
The editorial pages of many of the state’s newspapers also weighed in today. The Norwich Bulletin said that achieving concessions was “now entirely in the hands of union leaders.”
“We agree with Malloy’s position that the concessions are necessary because the current situation is unsustainable,” the paper said. “We need to look beyond just today’s problems.”
In Waterbury, the Republican-American argued that restructuring of state employee benefit and retirement plans was long overdue.
“As everyone knows by now, the state should have undertaken the right-sizing scheme now being advocated by Gov. Malloy when the state’s economy was strong, perhaps during the mid-1990s,” the paper’s editorial page said. “Years of retirements and attrition, bolstered by managerial discipline, could have cut state employment rolls substantially.”
And yesterday, the Hartford Courant said “the demands on workers to restructure compensation and benefits are tough but fair. State employees have great benefits and pay compared with many in the private sector”
“But more to the point, the state can’t keep up with payments for them.”

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