(Updated 4 p.m.) The Malloy administration laid off 165 union and non-union employees Monday in the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The Department of Children and Families notified 106 employees, mostly at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, that their service to the state was no longer needed. The decision, according to this memo from the Office of Policy and Management, saves $12.6 million and seeks to align staff with the reduced number of residents at the facility, which is slated to be closed before July 1, 2018.
The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services notified 59 employees that their employment was ending in order to save $15 million.
That agency plans to close the Connecticut Mental Health Center’s West Haven Clinic Adult Team, a cafe and library at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown, outreach services to the homeless, two transitional residential programs in Norwalk and Bridgeport, and it will reduce the hours the mobile crisis programs are offered at the Southeastern Mental Health Authority, Western Connecticut Mental Health Network, and Capitol Region Mental Health Center. The layoffs also will require a restructuring of administrative support at River Valley Services, clinical programs at Western Connecticut Mental Health Network, and inpatient treatment units at Capitol Region Mental Health Center.
Last week, Correction Commissioner Scott Semple told his agency that he would need to layoff 147 employees in that agency, but those notifications have not gone out yet.
Most employees will continue to receive their pay for an additional six weeks as part of their contract, even though they won’t be allowed to return to their jobs. Administration officials said that if they don’t find another job within six weeks, they are eligible to file for unemployment benefits.
“I think it’s disgraceful that our governor is playing political football with the lives of dedicated public service workers,” Linette Gaunichaux, a unit supervisor at CJTS and a member of AFSCME Local 2663 executive board, said. “The governor says the state’s budget situation is horrible, but his administration has given the workers we represent their six weeks’ notice to stay home with pay, and will force the remaining employees to work overtime. What would taxpayers say to this?”
Last week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the number of layoffs was approaching 2,000, but he declined to give any numbers Monday. Malloy will release a new budget Tuesday afternoon that erases the more than $930 million deficit estimated by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.
It’s unclear if that budget will help to mitigate the number of layoffs, which he has said would top 4,000 if the Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee budget was adopted. That budget fell about $360 million short of covering the budget deficit.
Meanwhile, Malloy said there still appears to be no desire on the part of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition to open the state employees’ health and pension benefit package that doesn’t expire until 2022.
Following a brief meeting Monday with legislative leaders, Malloy said state employees didn’t cause the problem, but the state has a budget deficit it needs to resolve.
“They’re not the fault of this. We have to realign our expenditures with our revenues,” Malloy said.
In a statement, Malloy said “State government cannot provide all the services it has always delivered. We must align spending with revenue. We must ensure government provides its core services while living within its means.”
Malloy said he informed legislative leaders about the layoffs and his plan to release a new budget Tuesday afternoon.
State employee unions have rallied against the layoffs and have stood firm on not reopening the contract.
They contend that the state should be able to raise revenues on those who can afford to pay, but there’s no appetite to raise taxes this year after having already passed the two largest tax increases in the state’s history over the past five years.
Meanwhile, lawmakers likely won’t be asked to vote on any labor agreements until they reconvene for the 2017 session.
Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes has said the window to finalize a labor agreement before May 4 is almost closed and none of the negotiations with the 14 unions have reached the final stages.