HARTFORD, CT — The amount of money Connecticut spent on overtime between July and December 2017 increased by $13.9 million to $115.2 million.
Five state agencies that provide 24/7 services account for over 93 percent of those overtime expenditures.
According to the most recent report from the Office of Fiscal Analysis, the Department of Correction spent $36 million in overtime, which is a 22.5 percent increase over what it spent last year. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services spent $26.3 million in overtime, an increase of 9.9 percent. The Department of Developmental Services spent $22.5 million, an increase of 2.3 percent. The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, which includes the state police, spent $12 million on overtime. That’s a 28.3 percent increase. And the Department of Children and Families spent $11.3 million, an 11.8 percent increase over last year. The rest of state agencies spent $7.1 million, up $600,000 over last year.
“While we do our best to manage overtime use and expenditures, as exemplified by the steep cuts in overtime over the past several fiscal years while simultaneously reducing the state workforce, the needs of state agencies and uncontrollable events do, sometimes, necessitate the use of overtime,” Chris McClure, a spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said. “The amounts being reported as increases, are amounts over the near-impossible to match low expenditures of FY17, but are still in line with FY15 amounts.”
He said they have new employees being trained and coming on board, which should reduce the amount of overtime being used at these agencies with 24 hour needs.
Retirements at the Department of Correction happened at a faster pace than they were able to get a new class of correction officers trained and the abuse and neglect allegations at Whiting Forensic Hospital saw 37 employees put on administrative leave pending an investigation. At least 13 of those 37 have been separated from state service, including those who are the subject of criminal charges.
Both those situations contributed to an increase in overtime payments, which had been on the decline over the past two years.
Overtime spending declined in both 2016 and 2017 after hitting an all-time high of $256.1 million in 2015, but it’s expected to increase over the short-term despite the new labor contract.
The contract, which saved the state $1.5 billion in the short-term, created a new tier of state employees. That new tier would only be able to apply 60 percent of their overtime earnings to their pension calculation. For all other tiers the full amount of overtime will still be applied.
That means state employees will likely volunteer for overtime shifts because it will essentially increase the pension they receive from the state after they retire.
As of Jan. 2 the state was facing a $224 million budget deficit that legislative leaders are waiting on better revenue numbers before resolving it, possibly as part of the 2018 legislative session which starts on Feb. 7.
As for reopening the state employee labor contract that will likely be a topic of discussion for the next governor.