Christine Stuart file photo
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had avoided talking about the number of state employee layoffs, but on Friday he said that they will be in excess of 1,000, “could easily be approaching 2,000,” and would have to be as many as 4,000 if the legislature’s budget were to be implemented.

After an unrelated event in Rocky Hill, Malloy told reporters that with 288 vacancies and 360 retirements, they will still need to lay off state employees, who have declined to reopen their contract for health and pension benefits.

“It’s hard to give you an exact number,” Malloy said.

Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple let his staff know he will need to lay off 147 employees in that agency. Individual employees in that agency are expected to be notified later this month.

Rudy Demiraj, Collin Provost, and Mike Tuthill, presidents of the three AFSCME locals who represent front-line Correction Department employees, said they appreciate Semple’s effort to “minimize the destructive impact of layoffs and budget cuts within the DOC.”

They said the governor and legislators need to make “better and smarter choices.”

No other state agency commissioners have yet released similar memos to their staff.

Malloy said he doesn’t want to cause panic, but there are still going to have to be a substantial number of layoffs in order to close a more than $900 million budget deficit.

Earlier this week, the Democrat-controlled Appropriations and Finance Committees, declined to find the spending cuts or tax increases to close the entire $930 million budget gap. That prompted Malloy to do something “extraordinary” and propose a second budget, which he will unveil next week.

“I haven’t seen Democrats or Republicans present a budget that is in balance. We’ll do that next week,” Malloy said.

However, he declined to give reporters a preview of what may or may not be included in that document.

“There is a reality that financial circumstances change,” Malloy said, criticizing the legislature for not doing its job.

And even though he encouraged lawmakers in February to get him a budget long before they adjourn on May 4, Malloy admitted Friday that they may not be able to get a budget together until the last day of the legislative session.