The Democratic majority appeared to soften its position today on a Republican proposal to allow its legislative staff to telecommute one day a week. The change in attitude arrived two days after CTNewsJunkie broke a story reporting that both top Democratic spokesmen had poo-pooed the proposal.
“This is a classic example of what the average person hates about politics,” Matt O’Connor, spokesman for CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, said Thursday. “It’s a good idea. It doesn’t matter who came up with it.”
O’Connor is talking about the House Republicans’ plan to let its 44 legislative employees work from home part-time. Democratic leaders like Speaker of the House James Amann would have to sign off on the Republican plan in order for it to become reality. There was no indication by the end of business hours today that the Democrats had officially signed off on the plan.
At a press conference Thursday, Amann said he “would consider it.”
“Good ideas comes from both sides of the aisle,” Amann added.
Derek Slap, spokesman for Senate President Donald Williams, said Thursday that “we’re not against telecommuting,” however, Democrats were critical of the Republican plan because it would effect such a small group of people and it lacked accountability standards and real cost savings to taxpayers. He said that as a broad policy matter Senate Democrats support telecommuting, as evidenced by their votes in favor of a bill that establishes guidelines for state employees that qualify for telecommuting or work-at-home options.
Slap pointed out the six Senators to vote against the bill were Republicans.
“I’d be the worst telecommuter,” Amann said, adding that in order to implement such a policy “we would have to set up a system with a lot of oversight.” The bill that passed the Senate on a 30 to 6 vote died on the House calendar.
As for comments about legislative employees on the Democratic side of the aisle that were interested in the four-day work week, Amann said he has a sign on his door that says he’s semi-retired and anyone who has an issue should see Majority Leader Chris Donovan, who is expected to be the next Speaker of the House. Amann has decided not to run for re-election in November so that he can run for governor.
Earlier this week a spokesman for Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she “is certainly happy to look at anything that makes state government more efficient,” however, “she has concerns about expanding telecommuting and work-from-home options from a practical standpoint.”
Rich Harris, the governor’s spokesman, said Tuesday that a majority of the state’s employees give direct services to the public and are needed in their offices or in the field five days a week. “Unlike the federal government, the state has few back office jobs,” Harris has said.