Moments after Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport and Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington finished their press conference Thursday saying they wanted to reach a compromise with the governor’s office and the Senate regarding pension revocation for corrupt lawmakers, Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, hijacked the microphone to publicly disagree with their position.
Caruso called Meyer’s actions “bush-league” and “bullshit.” Caruso said he and Urban were holding the press conference to restate their position regarding the reduction of a state employees pension verses revoking the pension of an elected official.
Meyer, who stepped up to the microphone as his fellow Democrats were ending their press conference, said he wants the same standards for both elected officials and state employees.
Caruso argues that a state employee’s pension is negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement and becomes the property of an employee. He said it would be constitutional to reduce the pension of a state employee, but it would be unconstitutional to revoke it completely because it would violate the contract.
Meyer said once the employee commits a felony they have violated their collective bargaining contract and the state, at the discretion of a judge, could take away the entire pension.
Caruso said that what Meyer’s wants to do “is not constitutional,” and case law from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania proves it. He said Connecticut is unique in that its pensions are negotiated as part of collective bargaining contracts and in states where pension revocation was struck down by the courts it was because the pension was negotiated as part of statute.
Meyer said his constituents are “very upset we have not done ethics reform. They don’t understand why we carve out an exception for public employees.”
Urban said while she disagrees with Sen. Meyer’s position on pension revocation she stressed the importance of getting ethics reform passed quickly for the sake of Connecticut’s economy.
A 2004 study by the University of Connecticut found political corruption increases the cost of doing business in the state by at least the amount of the bribe paid to secure favorable treatment. Urban said it also decreases the number of business that want to move to the state because “they don’t know if they’ll be getting a fair shake.”
The differing points of view regarding pension revocation were debated during the waning days of the regular legislative session, but neither side was able to come up with a compromise before time ran out. Supporters on both sides of the issue want pension revocation and ethics reform to be included as part of the special session agenda this summer, but if tempers continue to flair another year may pass.