HARTFORD, CT — This past fiscal year Connecticut state government agencies spent $234.3 million on overtime, the third-highest amount since the state started tracking overtime in 2013.
State agency spending on overtime in 2019 increased $6.1 million over 2018’s total of $228.2 million, according to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.
Overtime spending peaked at $256.1 million in 2015 and decreased to $219 million in 2016 and $204.4 million in 2017.
A total of 18,333 state employees received overtime in 2019, which is 979 more than in 2018.
Five agencies accounted for over 93% of overtime expenditures. The departments of Correction (DOC), Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), Developmental Services (DDS), Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), and Children and Families (DCF).
DMHAS, DDS, and DCF cut overtime in 2019 when compared to 2018, but overtime is up this year at the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection by 33.1%.
At the Department of Correction it’s up 6.4% over 2018, likely because of changes in inmate medical care. During the same period, Connecticut’s prison population fell to less than 13,000 inmates from a peak of 19,898 inmates in 2008.
The Office of Policy and Management was unable to offer a reason for why overtime had increased, but a spokesman said “Governor Lamont is committed to reducing state spending, including the use of overtime within our 24-hour agencies by right-sizing staffing, improving available resources, and achieving as many efficiencies as possible. We will continue to monitor overtime usage and staffing needs to lessen the impact.”
The other concern about overtime is how it’s used to calculate pensions and the long-term cost that adds to the state budget.
However, rules for overtime were changed in 2017. Now the overtime contribution will be computed based on the employee’s “total overtime hours averaged over the employee’s last 25 years of service multiplied by the employee’s average hourly base rate during the five years used for computing final average earnings.”
This means employees are no longer able to increase their overtime in the twilight of their careers in order to boost their pension payments.
In 2019, according to the Office of Fiscal Analysis report, 5,166 Correction Department employees received an average of $14,820 in overtime in 2019.
At the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, which includes the state police, 1,212 workers were paid an average $21,675 in overtime in 2019.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said overtime is a management issue that needs to be addressed by the Lamont administration.