HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told Republican legislative leaders Friday that he won’t be able to get more from the labor unions than what he had asked for back in February.
Republicans in the House and the Senate released separate budget proposals last week, but each asked for more in the way of labor concessions.
Malloy said he told them that would not be possible and they’re welcome to find more in the way of spending cuts in order to make their budgets balance as negotiations continue.
“I told them I didn’t believe we could do more,” Malloy said.
The Malloy administration has been in talks with the unions since November. In February, he asked for $700 million in labor savings in 2018 and $856 million in 2019 for a total of $1.56 billion over the next two years. The Republican budget proposals called for $2.2 billion over the next two years.
“The proposals released May 16 by legislative Republicans include particularly egregious examples of fiscal policies that prioritize the interests of Wall Street over the middle class,” a statement on AFSCME Council 4’s website states.
Talks with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition will continue this week.
“We don’t have a union breakthrough, but I am hopeful,” Malloy said Friday. “I am hopeful that we’re going to get it but we’re not there.”
Talks between the administration and the unions are expected to continue on Wednesday, May 24.
The clock is ticking on reaching a deal.
The governor has already announce that as many as 1,100 workers could face layoffs and as many as 4,200 could be possible if the unions don’t agree to concessions.
Whenever a deal is reached between the Malloy administration and SEBAC, the rank-and-file union members then will have a chance to vote on it and the stakes for the state of Connecticut are high. Without labor concessions, the spending cuts will be much deeper.
“I think that there’s an appreciation in Connecticut that we need to get our economic house in order,” Malloy said. “I think that there’s even a begrudging admission that this is not a revenue driven discussion. This has to be a change driven discussion.”
However, the unions have been advocating for closing tax loopholes for hedge funds and increasing the income tax on the wealthy or at the very least expanding the sales tax base.
“The plans released last week reinforce the need for a growing economy that works for all working people, not just CEOs and hedge fund managers,” the statement on AFSCME’s website states. “The reality is that a second consecutive year of deep, painful cuts will mean larger class sizes, fewer first responders, and a continued deterioration of vital health services.”
The unions agreed to concessions in 2009 and 2011 that changed the health and pension payments current employees will receive upon retirement.
“The right response to all three proposals is to demand a ‘fair share’ state budget, not more of the same failed austerity policies that further threaten Connecticut’s quality of life.”
The union also released this side-by-side comparison of the four proposals.