Several current and prior Connecticut Republican lawmakers have joined the Roger Sherman Liberty Center, a conservative think tank, in a lawsuit against Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic state leaders. The suit challenges the constitutionality of the new budget, passed last week by Mr. Malloy and the Democrats, which includes the largest tax increase upon citizens in the history of the state, as well as an earned income tax credit for those who pay no taxes.
Mr. Malloy, who likes to refer to himself as the “anti-Christie,” urged his lawmakers to pass his budget, based on his philosophy of “shared sacrifice,” without the $2 billion in union concessions that he used to balance it, arguing that he and the state unions, who largely helped to elect him, would engage in “talks,” behind closed doors, to achieve the concessions. The lawsuit asserts that, according to Connecticut’s constitution, the state’s expenditures must match its revenues, a requirement that was violated when the budget was adopted with the $2 billion hole.
Once the budget passed, Governor Malloy said he was giving union leaders a deadline of Friday, May 6th to come up with a concession package, a date that came and went with no agreement. Talks between the governor and union leaders apparently continued through the weekend and Monday, but on Tuesday, Mr. Malloy announced that he will move on to “Plan B,” in which he begins more than 4,700 layoffs and cuts to various state services and programs. However, even with this announcement, both the governor and union leaders say they will continue to engage in “talks” to close the budget gap, a situation which suggests that “Plan B” is still not final. In fact, the secretiveness of the negotiations has been as much of a news item as the content of the talks, with union locals holding strictly verbal briefings on the concession meetings for union members, without distributing any paper handouts containing information.
Regarding the failure to reach an agreement, the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) issued the following statement:
“SEBAC is disappointed the administration has decided to begin issuing layoff notices. We have said time and again that laying off workers, whether in the public or private sector, and slashing vital public services will prove disastrous to our shared goal of creating jobs and rebuilding the middle class – especially at a time when our 9.1% unemployment rate is already higher than the national average…Our discussions with the administration cannot be separated from the broader struggle for a fair economy based on shared sacrifice.”
While Governor Malloy has boasted that he can successfully achieve union concessions in a non-confrontational manner- unlike New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie- Connecticut’s unemployment rate has recently jumped to over the national average, as private companies leave the state for more business-friendly environments.
Interestingly, Mr. Malloy’s “Plan B,” in keeping with union tradition, will likely lay off the “last hired,” while it keeps employed senior state workers. If “Plan B” is not a posturing type of gimmick to allow the “anti-Christie” governor to look tough, then the question to Governor Malloy is: Where will the over 4,700 laid off state employees find work? Certainly not in the private sector in Connecticut. Likely they will be standing in line, collecting unemployment, or, if motivated, moving to other states. Nevertheless, Mr. Malloy states, unequivocally, that “Connecticut is open for business.”
While conservatives await a lawsuit hearing, scheduled for May 18th, some union members are expressing a sense of betrayal that their efforts to have Governor Malloy elected are not reaping benefits for them. Unfortunately for the taxpayers of Connecticut, these union members should wait until it’s over, since there’s still time for lay-offs to take place.
In the meantime, how’s that “anti-Christie” persona working out for you, Governor?