The state of Connecticut received 360 retirement notices before the Friday deadline, but it’s doubtful they will be enough to avoid a substantial number of layoffs.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was in Enfield Friday dedicating a new unit at the Cybulski Community Reintegration Center for drunk driving offenders, said the 360 retirements would be added to the 288 vacancies already created.
Malloy has explicitly said it will be necessary to layoff a “very, very substantial” number of state employees in order to balance what is currently a $900 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2017.
“We’re marching down the road to get ready for what is inevitable,” Malloy said Friday.
The goal is to separate the state employees from in state service before June 9, so that they won’t be on the payroll after July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Malloy said they are looking at a multiple hundreds of millions of dollars shortfall, but declined to say exactly how much they expect to save as a result of the layoffs. He has also declined to say how many layoffs would be necessary.
State employees, who have declined to reopen their contract for health and pension benefits, continued to press the administration to look at alternatives to layoffs. In addition to holding a rally at the state Capitol on Tuesday, state employees have been vocal about their desire to avoid layoffs and maintain their benefits.
“How can a governor and legislators in the wealthiest state in America decide that the only way to close a budget deficit is on the backs of 2,000 state workers and the people who depend on the services they provide?” Charles DellaRocco, a Connecticut State Supreme Court police officer, said.
He said the income of these middle class workers has been under attack for a long time, “while the one-percent, some of whose leading members live in Connecticut, have become wealthier even as their combined state and federal tax bills have declined.”
Travis Woodward, an inspector in the state’s Transportation Department, said there are “fairer and better alternatives to close the fiscal gap.”
“The state could also spend less by doing without some of the high-priced outside consultants they use,” Woodward suggested. “All it takes is some political courage and an unwillingness to scapegoat workers targeted for layoffs.”
Meanwhile, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo warned that he’s worried about continued erosion of revenue as the state approaches the April 18 income tax filing deadline.
In his monthly letter to Malloy, Lembo said the action the General Assembly took earlier this week eliminated this year’s $220 million deficit. However, he’s concerned about possible further revenue erosion and other risks related to moderate national economic growth.
“Specifically, while the withholding portion of the income tax showed solid growth in the month of March, it is still underperforming on a year-to-date basis,” Lembo said. “In addition, there has been some slippage in the sales tax trend, and national economic growth projections have moderated.”
Lembo said there is continued risk of a downward trend in revenue and that it will be especially important to monitor the estimated and final payment tax collections in April.
“The estimated and final payment collections in April are especially important,” Lembo said. “These receipts are highly dependent on capital gains and bonus payments to workers. This category of revenue has been exceptionally volatile over the past several decades and is difficult to project given the absence of timely Connecticut-specific data on the major factors driving collections in this area.”