(Updated 4:49 p.m.) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday he will not seek concessions from state employees next year if he’s re-elected and called projections the state will be facing a $1.278 billion budget deficit in the next fiscal year “ridiculous.”
“A deal is a deal. We’ve made a deal and we’re going to honor that deal,” Malloy said of the 2011 State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition concession labor deal his administration negotiated with state employee unions soon after taking office.
In 2011, state workers agreed to a two-year salary freeze and other concessions in exchange for four years of protection from layoffs.
Malloy said the deal, which was criticized for relying heavily upon difficult-to-quantify savings, has been undervalued.
“Quite frankly it’s a tremendously valuable deal. I think what’s misunderstood — perhaps purposefully so by some folks — is how much total savings that has brought about and really is the biggest reason we can look at our benefit package as sustainable,” he said.
The governor also disputed the budget projections from the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.
“We don’t face a deficit. I’ve decided to boil this down a little bit for you. The deficit projections on the same services budget would require that we increase spending by 7.78 percent. You don’t believe we’d do that, nobody believes we’d do that,” he said. Nobody, no party, no politician is going to advocate that we increase spending by 7.78 percent. It’s a ridiculous number.”
Although Malloy insists the estimates are based on unrealistic spending assumptions, he often points out that he inherited a $3.6 billion single-year budget deficit from his predecessor. That number is based on the same projection methods which now predict a $1.278 billion deficit in the next fiscal year (FY 2015/16).
Like Malloy, Republican gubernatorial candidates have all said they would not raise taxes, but at least one was unwilling to take state employee concessions off the table.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was the only one to immediately respond to the question.
“If we are going to solve our long-term financial challenges, everyone must be at the table,” Boughton said. “I would hope state employees would be willing to be part of the solution. Connecticut taxpayers have already stepped up to the plate. It’s now time for a complete and honest reorganization of state government. New employee benefits should be part of that discussion.”
Sen. John McKinney said he’s not surprised Malloy would make such a statement about the concessions, but nothing should be off the table.
“I guess with the big horse race coming up, the governor is trying for his own Triple Crown…no deficits, no new taxes and no concessions,” McKinney said. “I understand that it’s an election year, but I believe the deal Gov. Malloy made with the unions is unsustainable for state taxpayers and he knows it. We have a retirement system that allows a judge that works for 3 years to make a $100,000 pension. State employees have defined-benefit plans that are more generous than virtually anything that is available in the private sector. If we are serious about achieving balanced budgets, we need to open the contract and work together for a real solution that is fair to everyone who lives and works in our state.”
Tom Foley said Malloy can’t be trusted when it comes to concessions.
“In 2010 Dan Malloy signed a public union questionnaire saying he wouldn’t seek concessions. After being elected, he promptly broke that promise. Why should the unions believe him this time? As the saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Click here to read our previous report on the deficit projections.
Christine Stuart contributed to this report.