Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tried to give the media the “red meat” it was looking for Friday at the traditional post Bond Commission press conference. However, he admitted he would probably fall short of giving out too much new information about the looming 6,500 layoffs.
He said it’s likely large scale layoffs will begin as early as next Tuesday and those layoffs will include managers, as well as non-managers, and union, as well as non-union employees.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to get a point where there’s 1,000 a day, but we have to get to the point where we notice the appropriate number to bring the budget into balance,” Malloy said.
The process is a complicated one because state employees have what are called bumping rights that allow more senior members of a union to bump a less senior member out of a position if they choose.
“Because employees have bumping rights and so our managers are conveying to us, or commissioners are conveying to us, what positions they wish to eliminate,” Malloy said. “Then there’s a process to examine who holds that position and what his or her bumping rights might be and that’s what complicates it.”
He said it’s a slow process at the outset, but “ultimately all the people who need to be laid off will be given those notices.”
Why continue to move toward layoffs when the unions are looking to see if they can win ratification through a second vote?
“I have a job,” Malloy said. “My job is to move the state forward in its execution of 6,500 or there about layoffs. That’s job one.”
“So optimism is not something I’m practicing at the moment or engaged in,” Malloy said. “I’ve sent a very clear message I believe that I have to understand what a pathway to approval of any agreement would be before I’m going to develop any level of confidence and I’m not there yet.”
Malloy asked Office of Policy and Management Deputy Secretary Mark Ojakian to speak with union leadership about how they plan to move forward and what bylaws they may use if they conduct another vote on a clarified $1.6 billion concession package. Malloy said he hadn’t spoken with Ojakian yet today about those discussions.
“If there’s an eventuality that will allow us not to layoff those individuals I think ultimately that would be a good thing, but I’m not in a position to judge whether that is possible at this moment,” Malloy said. “Until I have some confidence I’m not even thinking of that.”
Malloy’s Budget Director Ben Barnes will receive the reduction proposals from agency commissioners Friday and it’s possible those proposals will include fewer layoffs than initially proposed by Malloy. Barnes will then be asked to make a final recommendation on how Malloy will cut more than $700 million from this year’s budget and just how many layoffs it will take to reach that number.
“The layoff numbers have varied they have found ways to eliminate fewer positions and I frankly think that that’s okay,” Barnes said. “I think the end product will allow us to make the best of a pretty tough situation.”
Malloy said he’s targeted Sept. 1 as the effective date for calculating savings from the layoffs and budget reductions. But he warned that some people will lose their jobs long before that date.
The legislation approved last week by the General Assembly increases Malloy’s rescission authority from 5 percent to 10 percent and gives the unions until Aug. 31 to find a resolution to the rejection of the concession package.