Malloy says he is trying to limit the number of layoffs coming

STAMFORD–Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today he worked over the weekend to limit the number of state employee layoffs he will impose this week in response to labor’s rejection of a tentative agreement for concessions and other labor savings.

In remarks after delivering a pep talk on economic development to the Business Council of Fairfield County, Malloy said government must shrink, but he will try to reduce the impact where possible by not filling vacant jobs. He stressed, however, that there will be no early-retirement program.

It was a surprisingly conciliatory tone for a governor who was just rebuffed by a coalition of state employees, which rejected a tentative agreement for givebacks and forced him and the legislature to now quickly adjust a budget $700 million out of balance.

But Malloy indicated his remarks are not an invitation for new talks with the SEBAC coalition: Negotiations are over, and he will outline his plan for layoffs and other budget adjustments no later than Tuesday.

By the morning of July 1, the budget for the new fiscal year will be back in balance, he said.

The leaders of the union coalition, meanwhile, have postponed from 3 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. their first press conference since the deal they recommended was killed Friday. The leaders have been meeting all day, presumably to see if the deal can somehow be salvaged.

One leader of an AFSCME local that rejected the agreement warned in an email to reporters that anything less than a renegotiated deal is pointless.

“Let’s get back to the bargaining table because any attempt by SEBAC to change the rules or reintroduce this agreement in its present form will have serious consequences to their respective organizations and will lead to exactly the same end result, but with a more pronounced NO VOTE,” wrote Moises Padilla, the vice president of Local 387, which represents correction officers in Cheshire.

But the governor has ruled out new terms.

Malloy conceded that the layoffs he intends to make probably will harm the economy in the short term, but “the overarching concern has to be whether Connecticut can live within its means.”

“That has to be the number  one ruling factor, and it is,” Malloy told his business audience.

Malloy had scheduled his speech to the business group’s annual meeting as part of the kickoff of what he is calling his summer jobs tour, with Catherine H. Smith, his economic development commissioner.

In talking about the rejection of the tentative agreement for concessions and labor savings, Malloy said, “Having said that, that’s not really the reason I came here.”

But Malloy broke no new ground about his vision for economic development in a speech he delivered before department for a tour of Blue Sky Studios, a digital animation studio in Greenwich.

“I’ve heard it a million times,” said Rep. Livvy Floren, R-Greenwich, but she added that his economic pep talk was welcome nonetheless. “I’m glad he was upbeat.”

Prior to the luncheon, Malloy and Smith met private with the business council’s board and other leaders, including representatives of area colleges.

“We want the governor to be successful,” said Joseph McGee, the group’s vice president for public affairs.

McGee also is one of Smith’s predecessors. He oversaw economic development during the administration of Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. 20 years ago.