It is so incredibly difficult to accentuate the positive in Connecticut. Doing so is akin to swimming upstream, climbing uphill, and skiing through a revolving door – combined. In fact, when there is positive evidence staring us in the face, our Nutmeg reflexes kick in automatically. We shut our eyes, the better not to see the hopeful signs or indicators of progress.
Before Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program, unions or corporations could donate as much as they wanted directly to candidates, and expect favors in return. Some current legislators are proposing the program’s elimination as a way to save money during the current budget negotiations. Fully funding the CEP is crucial to Connecticut’s ability to transcend the days of “Corrupticut.”
Connecticut is not getting the message sent by General Electric, Aetna and other corporations who have either left the state for greener pastures or are contemplating a move. GE pulled up stakes and relocated its corporate facilities from Fairfield to Boston, where it felt there was a far more robust “innovation pipeline,” a greater talent pool and stronger incubation opportunities. Aetna is also moving its corporate office, a bastion in Hartford for more than a century, to seek better opportunities in Manhattan.
In light of these losses, you would think we would be doing everything in our power to convince companies that Connecticut has the talent to support the needs of its employers by prioritizing funding for higher education and financial aid.
Our Connecticut State Legislature was faced with a truly historic choice; either dig our state out of a $5 billion biennial fiscal abyss responsibly or, once again, allow the state unions to reap asymmetrical benefits that significantly exceed both the private sector workforce and state employees from any other state in the country. The legislature chose the latter, and one of the most critical opportunities to change our state’s fiscal trajectory was squandered with the renegotiation of our state union workers contract.
Democrats in the State Senate voted last week to approve significant concessions and structural changes — the types of structural changes many of us have long sought — to Connecticut’ state employee labor agreements (SEBAC). This vote is just the latest step Democrats in Connecticut have taken to make government more affordable and more efficient for our taxpayers, and the labor concessions in this agreement represent the most critical piece crafting our next biennial state budget — eliminating about a third of the projected state budget deficit.
Every family who lives in Bob Duff’s district and every business operating in Fairfield County needs to be aware of what their elected State Senator just did to threaten their livelihoods last week. The labor contract agreement that just passed and will now become law is another in a long line of sweetheart deals with unions negotiated by Gov. Dannel Malloy that has prolonged the fiscal crisis and created the poor economic climate our families and businesses suffer in every day.
Why are President Trump’s proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) such a bad idea? One big reason is that they are on the forefront of what Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC Director, rightly called “one of our most serious health threats” — killer antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Connecticut families and businesses need to understand the state union agreement the legislature has just approved and what it means for them. While one union leader called it “the best and longest public-sector pension and healthcare contract in the country,” its far-reaching budgetary consequences will likely not draw such enthusiasm from Connecticut taxpayers.
I am disappointed that the General Assembly passed the state employee concession contracts. I believe that may have broken the back of Connecticut. I will state the obvious. The Democrats who voted to pass the contracts have also voted for tax increases to pay for those contracts and for the seemingly unending flow of taxpayer dollars into cities.
There is a shortage of good ideas at the Capitol this summer as lawmakers try to put together a budget for Connecticut, but there is no shortage of bad ideas. One of those bad ideas is a plan to allow cities and towns to levy a new tax on restaurant meals as a means to increase tax revenues to municipalities. There is no rhyme or reason to this concept, it is just another random scheme to help lawmakers pay for the promises they have made in the past to get themselves elected.
I am not forgetting about or unsympathetic to the state’s demanding financial situation and the complex challenges of addressing the projected shortfalls in the next biennial budget. At Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC), we know about increasing pressures to meet the needs of our constituencies while available funds keep decreasing. I say proudly that NVCC has remained in the black during each of the past nine years.
As Connecticut senators vote on a labor “concessions” deal, the irony is that even greater savings can be achieved without any deal at all. Gov. Dannel Malloy claims to have extracted $715 million in wage savings over two years through a “wage freeze.” Yet, without any deal, he could achieve $770 million in wage savings. The simple truth is that wages can only be raised by contract. No contract, no raises.