Malloy discusses more consolidations, possible job growth, from Davos

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced plans Friday for a second round of agency consolidations, including combining oversight for the University of Connecticut, its health center and the chief medical examiner's office.

Malloy, who discussed the proposed changes during his noon conference call from Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, will ask the legislature next month to combine 15 departments and agencies into seven.

The governor also said he faced "another jam-packed day" at the conference, including discussions with one company considering a major expansion that would add 1,000 new jobs in the state.

"I can't elaborate," he said. But "it was a definitive and detailed discussion about that possibility" of expanding here.

"Last year we began the work of changing how the state does business -- making government smaller, less costly and easier to navigate," Malloy said. "Like companies and families across the state and the country, state government must do more with less. This session we are continuing the effort to ensure government is working as efficiently as possible."

Malloy said the UConn merger was a natural fit, particularly given that the chief medical examiner's office is located on the Farmington campus of the UConn health center. "There's a lot of interaction," the governor said. "They're on that campus."

Other proposals include merging:

 

  • The Administrative Services and Construction Services departments;
  • The Office of Protection and Advocacy and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities;
  • The Comptroller's office and the Teacher's Retirement Board;
  • The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Psychiatric Security Review Board;
  • The Labor Department and the Workers' Compensation Commission;
  • And the state's Health & Education Facilities and Higher Education Supplemental Loan authorities.

 

Malloy said there would be relatively little in terms of position cuts, and budgetary savings, in 2012-13, the first fiscal year the mergers would take effect under his proposal.

"Most of the people in these particular areas -- not all -- fall under the no-layoff-clause," the governor said, referring to the concessions deal his office negotiated and state employee unions and the legislature approved last year.

In exchange for a two-year wage freeze, new restrictions on health care and retirement benefits, and savings from other changes, the administration agreed to exempt most bargaining units from layoffs for four fiscal years, through 2013-14.

No specific cost-savings projections were released Friday. But the administration is watching for opportunities to trim positions further through attrition, and the governor said he expects those mergers will yield additional savings in future years.

Malloy added that while he didn't expect to propose further concessions in his next budget plan, "I don't want to rule it out."

The governor and legislature agreed on a plan last spring for a net reduction of 22 departments and agencies, from 81 to 59. Technically, the new budget removed 27 entities via consolidation, but it also created five new ones, eliminating a net total of nearly 70 positions at that time.

One of the biggest consolidations involved the merger of nine watchdog agencies -- covering ethics, elections enforcement, right-to-know laws, clean contracting, oversight of child welfare services and others -- into the new Office of Governmental Accountability.

Other major changes merged the departments of Public Utility Control and Environmental Protection; put the Department of Information Technology and some functions of the Department of Public Works into the Department of Administrative Services; and merged the Connecticut State University System, the community colleges and Charter Oak State College into the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

In referred to his discussions with businesses, Malloy said his administration has been in various stages of talks with more than 20 companies that potentially could qualify for "substantial benefits" under existing state programs designed to assist companies prepared to create new jobs.

"I have concrete offers that I have received at Davos," the governor said, quickly noting that in some cases it can take months or even years of talks before any deal is struck.

Other highlights of the governor's day included a breakfast with the leader of Swiss banking giant UBS. Besides a enjoying "robust discussion about challenges for businesses in the United States," Malloy said he also was questioned by European business and political leaders who are worried about the current gridlock on Capitol Hill.

They want to know "if our politics are permanently broken or if this is a temporary malady," he said.

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