Report by Paula Antolini
June 4, 2017 10:24AM EDT
Senator McLachlan Says Republican Budget Shows Courage to Make Difficult Decisions, Address State Employee Benefits and Pensions
Hartford –Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) today joined his Senate Republican colleagues to announce a revised two-year state budget proposal that contains no new taxes. It also proposes changes to the labor savings deal negotiated by Governor Dannel P. Malloy and state employee union leaders.
“Connecticut has reached a point where we must change the way we create and fund state budgets,” Sen. McLachlan said. “Up to this point, it’s been like the legislature is driving the state toward a fiscal cliff. Instead of stopping the car and turning around, some people think they can build a bridge by digging the dirt out from underneath us. We’re running out of ground and it’s starting to crumble. It’s time to put on the brakes.”
The Governor’s proposed deal with the state employee unions would lock the state into specified benefits, including wage increases that range from 9% – 11% over five years. Instead, the Senate Republicans identified alternative labor saving options that also would bring state employee benefits more in line with the private sector. These proposals are:
Option A: A savings plan achieved by renegotiating a deal with the labor unions.
Option B: A savings plan achieved through legislative action alone if the state employee unions do not come back to the negotiation table.
“As much as we would like for state employees to be part of process to negotiate labor savings, we will take the steps necessary to provide the sustainable, predictable budgets that will restore Connecticut as an economic leader,” Sen. McLachlan said. “I think everybody recognizes that the state can no longer afford the generous medical and pension benefits they have today. We must bring them more in line with the private sector. The Governor’s deal doesn’t do that.”
The governor’s proposed labor deal with the state employee unions estimates saving $1.5 billion over two years, but only $186 million (12%) of those savings require approval from state employee unions and the governor. According to an analysis using data from the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, $1.3 billion of the governor’s proposal can be achieved through statutory changes without locking the state into the SEBAC contract for another five years.
“The time has come for Connecticut to face the dire fiscal situation that has caused so many people and businesses to leave our state,” Sen. McLachlan said. “Taking these steps show that we are serious about making the changes needed to right the state and return fiscal stability to Connecticut. We don’t have to drive over the cliff.”
Either of the labor savings options proposed by Senate Republicans would balance the Republican “Confident Connecticut” budget proposal, which includes the following elements:
- Does not include new taxes
- Increases Education Cost Sharing funding by $170 million in the first two years and implements a new funding formula
- Protects all towns and cities from cuts to statutory municipal grants in year one, either holding municipalities harmless or increasing funds
- Maintains tax exempt status for hospitals to protect them from a new local hospital tax
- Preserves core government services by restoring funding for social services and programs that benefit people most in need
- Prioritizes transportation needs and stabilizes funding without tolls
- Lowers taxes for retirees and helps seniors age in place
- Enhances funding for state parks and tourism
Full details on the complete Senate Republican “Confident Connecticut” fiscal years 2018/2019 budget proposal available here.
Sen. McLachlan represents the communities of Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Sherman.