In the days since Dan Malloy was elected as Connecticut’s next governor, many have asked what state public service workers “expect” from his new administration. After all, the members of our unions played an important role in getting out the vote to ensure his margin of victory at the polls on Nov. 2.
After 16 years of not being heard by two successive governors, state employees have the opportunity to play a role in creating and implementing a new vision for Connecticut. A vision founded on the strengthening of the American Dream for working people and restoring the ranks of the shrinking middle class.
Our Union’s members who are state employees look forward to more than just sharing ideas with a governor who will listen. They look forward to cultivating a new culture that generates more input from frontline public service workers.
For far too long, state employees have been told to shut up, keep their ideas to themselves, and not to even think about changing the status quo.
In the spirit of David Letterman’s nightly “top ten list,” I’d like to share the best recommendations for Governor-elect Malloy I’ve heard from our members since his historic win earlier this month:
10. Stop wasting tax dollars on private consultants to watch other consultants.
Let’s eliminate the wasteful middle layer of consultants. Unbelievably, the Department of Transportation has taxpayer-funded contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with consultants to merely oversee the work of other consultants.
9. Eliminate the “shadow government” of costly consultants.
Agency chiefs claim it is “easier” to contract high-priced consultants than hire less costly state workers to design construction projects, maintain computer systems, and inspect railroad bridges. The solution is to fix the State’s broken hiring process.
8. Make state agencies justify outsourcing before they do it.
Require a cost benefit analysis prior to contracting-out any public services. Bad, multi-million dollar agreements with discredited IT companies like Accenture shouldn’t be renewed without proof that taxpayers won’t be ripped-off.
7. Help towns, non-profits, and small businesses with the cost of healthcare.
Sign into law the bill that allows more employees to join the state health plan “pool.” The savings will redirect resources back to direct service for municipalities and non-profits and allow small businesses the opportunity to hire more workers.
6. Put efficiency first by allowing more state workers to telecommute.
State agency managers should be responsible for more than head counts that resemble inmate counts in a prison. Department of Environmental Protection water quality inspectors shouldn’t have to drive to an office before turning around and heading back into the field.
5. Empower state workers to improve services and save money.
Immediately restore the Innovation Review Panel that was dismantled in 2002. Let’s deliver real innovation, not just feel-good headlines like the suggestion box scheme that political appointees in Governor Rell’s budget office hatched two years ago.
4. Tap the well of state employees’ experience and dedication to facilitate change.
A labor management committee set up under former Governor Lowell P. Weicker oversaw retraining and placing thousands of state employees who were displaced as a result of agency consolidation or job loss. You should share his vision—and contractual commitment—of ensuring all laid off State employees are put to work serving the people of Connecticut.
3. Assemble a team with a shared vision of public service and respect for public employees.
We cannot afford the continued contempt that some appointees of both Governors John G. Rowland and M. Jodi Rell have had for career state employees who have dedicated their lives to public service. We must end the philosophy that any policy benefiting state employees must be wrong—even when it also benefits the public they serve.
2. Make the investments needed to fulfill your vision of a growing middle class.
Balancing the state budget is an important responsibility for you as the new governor, but it should not be confused with your vision or mistaken for your mission. It’s also not the reason the people voted for you—they voted for you to work for a Connecticut that works for everyone.
1. Don’t hire Lisa Moody.
The state only needs one governor.
Robert D. Rinker is Executive Director of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, one of the thirteen unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC).