(Updated 6:03 p.m.) It’s likely to be considered the biggest shake-up of state government in at least the last two decades, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said it’s too soon to tell how many employees will be eliminated when he takes the state from 81 agencies down to 57.
The move, according to Malloy‘s senior staff, will save the state $10 million in the first year of the budget, but that does not include the savings from the higher education consolidations he did earlier this week.
“It’s a bold move,” Malloy’s Budget Director Ben Barnes said Thursday. “But when else is he going to have an opportunity to do it?”
And while it’s admittedly not a lot of savings when the state is staring at a $3.67 billion budget deficit, it will help the state save money over time, Barnes said.
Malloy will release his first two-year budget proposal on Feb. 16 and aside from the consolidations Malloy has already said he won’t be spending more money than the state spending this year.
“You have to have a plan of what you’re consolidating before you can decide what those redundancies and what those efficiencies are going to be,” Malloy said in a brisk walk to his Capitol office Thursday. “We can’t afford to do business the way we’ve been doing it. It‘s bankrupting us.”
Asked if it means employees from some of the merged agencies will be eliminated, Malloy said, “I assume that will in fact occur.” There are union employees that will be protected by their collective bargaining contracts, but there are some administrative employees who may be let go. Those decisions will be left up to the commissioners of those agencies.
“For years we’ve advocated reducing duplicative bureaucracy and shifting resources from management to the front-line workers who provide public services,” Larry Dorman, spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition said. “We would hope the governor’s proposal accomplishes that, but absent any discussion about how the proposed consolidation might work, I cannot comment any further.”
However, employee reductions and savings are not what’s driving the conversation, Malloy officials say.
“What’s driving the conversation is the streamlining of government from a policy perspective,” Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser said. “Savings is not the sole reason, but more savings will be realized down the road as a result of these consolidations.”
Malloy said that when he was putting together his budget he started asking questions about why certain agencies are separate when their administrative functions or jurisdictions seem to overlap.
“When putting together my budget, I had to ask – what sense does it make to split the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the Department of Public Safety? Or why are the Offices of Workforce Competitiveness and the Commission on Culture and Tourism stand-alone agencies, apart from the Department of Economic and Community Development?,” Malloy said.
“This is a large shake-up, and I know there will be a number of questions,” he added. “In the coming weeks and months, I’m going to be talking to people all across the state about my plan for a more streamlined and efficient Connecticut state government. But make no mistake – I am serious about these proposals, and I am ready to work with the committees of cognizance in the legislature to make this happen.”
Based on a spreadsheet Malloy plans on creating three new agencies and restructuring 27 other agencies. No agencies have been eliminated, but the streamlining effort of the first Democratic administration in 20 years was music to House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero’s ears.
“I’m thrilled,” Cafero said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “I don’t want to douse this with cold water, I want to stoke the fire.”
Republicans lawmakers proposed taking 43 agencies and consolidating them down to 11 earlier this month.
House Speaker Chris Donovan said he’s glad Malloy is being “aggressive” about consolidation and his vision for the state. He said Democrats are also grateful to have a Democratic governor to work with because in the past when they’ve proposed consolidations of certain agencies they were met with resistance from a Republican governor.
Donovan said they tried to consolidation the alphabet soup of economic development agencies, but were unsuccessful in the past. He said Senate President Donald Williams also had some ideas for making the Department of Motor Vehicle more efficient and those too were dismissed by a Republican administration.
Two years ago former Gov. M. Jodi Rell proposed abolishing or consolidating 23 state agencies, but the legislature’s Democratic majority dismissed the proposal. The proposal would have eliminated about 400 jobs.
It’s still unclear how many jobs Malloy’s proposal may eliminate. What is clear is that there’s new leadership in charge at the Capitol.
Earlier this week Malloy proposed the consolidation of the Department of Public Utility Control and the Department of Environmental Protection, and also the consolidation of the Department of Higher Education’s governance system.
It hasn’t all been about downsizing. On Thursday he created three new agencies: the Department of Construction Services, Department of Emergency Responder Training, and Office of Governmental Accountability.
The 27 restructured agencies that he announced Thursday are as follows:
1 Board of Education & Services for the Blind—Split between CSDE and DSS
2 Board of Accountancy—Merged into DCP
3 Board of Firearms Permit Examiners—Merged into DPS
4 Charter Oak State College—Merged into Board of Regents
5 Comm on Fire Prevention & Control—Merged into Department of Emergency Responder Training
6 Comm on the Deaf & Hearing Impaired—Merged into DSS
7 Commission on Culture and Tourism—Merged into DECD
8 Connecticut State University—Merged into Board of Regents
9 Contracting Standards Board—Merged into Office of Governmental Accountability
10 Council on Environmental Quality—Merged into Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
11 Department of Information Technology—Merged into DAS line agencies, some function to OPM
12 Department of Public Utility Control—Merged into Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
13 Department of Public Works—Split between DAS and Department of Construction Services
14 Division of Special Revenue—Merged into DCP
15 Elections Enforcement Commission—Merged into Office of Governmental Accountability
16 Emergency Mgmt/Homeland Security—Merged into DPS
17 Freedom of Information Commission—Merged into Office of Governmental Accountability
18 Judicial Review Council—Merged into Office of Governmental Accountability
19 Judicial Selection Commission—Merged into DAS
20 Office of Consumer Counsel—Merged into DCP
21 Office of State Ethics—Merged into Office of Governmental Accountability
22 Office of the Healthcare Advocate—Merged into DCP
23 Office of Workforce Competitiveness—Merged into DECD
24 Police Standards & Training Council—Merged into Department of Emergency Responder Training
25 Regional Community-Technical Colleges—Merged into Board of Regents
26 Regional Vocational-Technical School System—Merged into CSDE. Schools to go to Districts/RESCs
27 State Department on Aging Delayed establishment for 2 years