Malloy: managerial cuts sought by GOP, labor won’t come immediately

MERIDEN — It is one area where state employee unions and Republicans agree: The ranks of state managers need to be sharply cut. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today those reductions are coming, but they will not be reflected until the second year of his two-year budget.

“There are lots of assumptions built into the second year of this budget that absolutely require us to create those kinds of efficiencies,” Malloy said after a speech to the Chamber of Commerce in Meriden.

But the governor said he wants to make those reductions in an orderly fashion after seeing the results of his administration’s continuing talks with state employees over his demand for $1 billion in labor savings.

“What I’m saying is I need a budget, and then I’ll give you a more detailed plan on how we’re going to get from one point to another. I need to know what road we’re going down,” Malloy said.

Complaints from state employees about the bloated ranks of managers at many agencies were a staple at the 17-stop listening tour on the budget recently completed by the first-year governor.

“Let me assure you, I believe those cuts need to be made,” Malloy said.

Malloy later clarified that every one of his commissioners already has been told to begin to flatten the layers of management, but those savings cannot be reflected in the first year of his budget, because they will evolve as his administration consolidates agencies and functions.

“It’s ongoing as we speak. It will continue to be ongoing. And until I know where the concession package is going, it’s difficult to tell,” Malloy said.

Malloy’s administration is in talks with a coalition of state employee unions, seeking $1 billion in labor savings in the first year of the biennial budget. If the talks fail, the governor has promised thousands of layoffs.

“Let me assure you, if I am laying off thousands of people, a lot of them are going to be managers as well,” Malloy said.

The legislature’s Republican minority Tuesday proposed cutting 1,380 managerial positions as part of an alternative budget that the GOP says could erase a $3.2 billion deficit without Malloy’s proposed $1.5 billion in tax increases.

Malloy was dismissive today, saying the GOP plan relies on $500 million in unspecified savings and an unrealistic estimates of savings through efficiencies and elimination of Medicaid fraud.

“Those are the kinds of budgets that got us into this hole to begin with,” Malloy said.

The governor, who previously had promised to eliminate longevity payments to top appointees, had no explanation as to why several commissioners he retained from the administration of Gov. M. Jodi Rell received the payments.

“Actually, I will look into it,” Malloy said. “I don’t have an answer to that.”