House GOP would cancel bonuses for senior state workers

Minority Republicans in the state House of Representatives called Thursday for lawmakers to cancel “longevity” bonuses due next month to 4,000 senior state employees.

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero, R-Norwalk, also said Gov. M. Jodi Rell should ask unionized state employees to forfeit their longevity pay as state government grapples with a growing budget deficit.

“It’s something we cannot afford to do and it needs to be eliminated,” he said, calling the annual bonuses that range from $2,500 to $26,000 a “classic example” of an expense that needs to be cut immediately. “The clock is ticking.”

This fiscal year’s $18.64 billion budget is running $518.4 million in deficit, and nonpartisan legislative analysts are projecting deficits of $726 million and $3.88 billion for 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively.

The statute House Republicans hope to repeal mandates a bonus system for workers with more than 10 years of experience. Bonuses ranging from just under 1 percent of annual pay to 3.5 percent for workers with 25 years or more of seniority are paid in equal installments in October and April.

Bonuses for union and non-union workers cost the state $43 million last fiscal year.