As labor negotiators work through the weekend, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released his alternative budget options late this week to legislative leaders.
Democratic legislative leaders described the alternative budget, which includes 4,742 layoffs and $1.2 billion in sweeping spending cut options, “ugly.”
Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes described the options in his letter to Malloy as “unattractive.”
“I offer them with a sense of reluctance and even regret,” Barnes wrote in this letter letter detailing the cuts.
The 4,742 layoffs are expected to save $455 million in the first year and $545 million in spending cuts would need to accompany them in order for the state to find the $1 billion in savings to balance the 2012 budget. But Barnes gave Malloy $1.2 billion in spending cuts to choose from, so an exact roadmap of what an alternative budget will look like is not precise.
The layoffs will include 4,192 executive branch employees, 80 legislative branch employees, and 470 judicial branch employees, or about 10 percent of the state’s 46,290 employees.
The spending reductions Barnes presented Malloy affect nearly every state agency. Funding is eliminated for the State Child Advocate, Connecticut State Library, Office of Consumer Counsel, Department of Motor Vehicle branch offices, fish hatcheries, school choice programs, health programs for the poor, drivers for the Secretary of the State and State Comptroller, food stamps, and ferry service, to name a few. Several other line items in the budget are reduced.
It also proposes eliminating $61.7 million in Mashantucket and Mohegan grants funds to cities and towns, $30 million in Town Aid Road, and $269.5 million in local education funds. Those cuts are likely to deal a large blow to cities and towns, who encouraged support for Malloy’s budget because it held them relatively harmless.
“The municipal aid and program cuts in the Plan B budget would have a devastating impact on towns and cities. These cuts would decimate municipal services, raise property taxes, and result in massive municipal employee and teacher layoffs,” said Jim Finley, executive director and CEO of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
The deadline to get the $2 billion in labor concessions assumed by the budget Malloy signed into law earlier this week will be May 31. At that point the alternatives presented by Barnes will have to be considered administration officials have said.
After hearing the alternatives to $2 billion in labor concessions, Democratic legislative leaders exited Malloy’s office Thursday saying they will encourage union leadership to reach a deal.
“He did not give us specifics about programs he would choose, he spoke about the universe of choices,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said Friday as he exited Malloy’s office.
Asked if this was just an exercise or if these cuts and layoffs had a potential for becoming reality, “I think he’s gotta prepare for it one way or another,” Cafero said.
Republican and Democratic legislative leaders said Malloy didn’t shed any light on how union negotiations were proceeding.
Mark Ojakian, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said Friday afternoon that negotiating sessions are scheduled to take place both Saturday and Sunday.
Malloy delayed sending out layoff notices to more than 4,700 unionized state employees to give union leadership some breathing room. No matter what happens no state employee will be laid off before July 1. And once a deal is reached the rank and file members of the 15 unions, and 34 bargaining units that belong to the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition will need to vote on it.