Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said Friday that if most state employees agree to two furlough days they could find the $6 million Gov. Dannel P. Malloy needs in labor savings to balance this year’s budget deficit.
Earlier this week Malloy suggested he would need to find $6 million in savings from a “reduction” of the workforce.
Fasano said in lieu of layoffs he thinks state employees would happily take two days off without pay. He calculated that two days without pay would yield about $8 million.
“There’s no reason to lay anyone off in 2016,” Fasano said.
But a Malloy spokesman said that won’t be enough to resolve the challenges the state faces.
Chris McClure, a spokesman for Malloy, said a discussion about state employee benefits needs to be part of the conversation.
However, the health and benefit portion of state employees’ contracts doesn’t expire until 2022.
“If state employees are ready to open that contract and offer ideas for savings, we welcome that discussion and stand ready to meet them at the bargaining table,” McClure said in a statement.
Daniel Livingston, chief negotiator for the State Employees Bargaining Unit Coalition, said he doesn’t think the leaders would refuse to meet with the governor.
“I think they would use the opportunity to talk about savings that could be had by fully implementing the agreement rather than changing it, and by ramping up the state’s clean contracting efforts,” Livingston said.
Livingston said state employees already made sacrifices in 2009 and in 2011.
Those sacrifices include nearly $1 billion a year in ongoing savings.
“State employees are already part of the solution,” Livingston said.
He suggested that if the governor wanted to fully implement the 2011 agreement, then he would be able to find additional savings.
Cindy Stretch, a Southern Connecticut State University English professor, said Fasano’s proposal is a “Trojan Horse.”
“The layoffs are, of course, a terrible idea and Republican leaders are among those who caused the budget problem by their stubborn refusal to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share,” Stretch said. “What they claim is a furlough day proposal is actually a Trojan Horse proposal that calls for reopening the SEBAC agreement plus pay cuts, which Republicans euphemistically call furlough days. And by offering no job security, this proposal would allow layoffs to go forward.”
As for Fasano, McClure said they disagree that by simply opening up the health and benefit portion of the contract that they would avoid layoffs.
“Unless we want to raise taxes, reducing the size of state government is a difficult but necessary part of living within our means,” McClure said.
Livingston suggested that if they fully implement the 2011 package and ask the wealthiest in Connecticut to pay more, then “we can begin to rebuild our troubled economy, avoiding layoffs and service cuts that will jeopardize health and safety, and only make the private sector economy worse.”