Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today he will outline spending reductions and mass layoffs next week in response to the apparent collapse of his $1.6 billion concessions deal with state employees.
A special session of the legislature has been called for June 30 to approve a revised budget that Malloy says will be ready Monday. His staff says it is likely to call for 7,500 layoffs, a number large enough to bump the unemployment rate from 9.1 percent to 9.4 percent.
“We’re talking about large-scale position reductions pretty quickly,” Malloy said after speaking at an economic development event at the University of Hartford.
With notice requirements, most of the affected employees will lose their jobs by Sept. 1, he said.
Speaking publicly for the first time since it became clear Wednesday that the concession deal was faltering, Malloy was restrained and even rueful in his response.
Voting on the deal continues through Friday, when the Connecticut State Poice Union and a union representing judicial marshals cast their ballots, but he offered little optimism that the concessions can be saved, given the heavy early voting against ratifiication by the largest union, AFSCME Council 4.
“I think we probably know what the results are, which means that we’ll proceed with what we have to do,” Malloy said.
He waved off a question about whether he was disappointed that Connecticut soon would join the ranks of states slashing its public-sector workforce.
“I don’t have time to be disappointed,” Malloy said. “We move forward. I’ve been clear that one way or another we were going to have a balanced budget.”
The $40 billion biennial budget passed last month by the General Assembly relied on Malloy obtaining concessions and labor savings worth $700 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1 and $900 million the following year.
A majority of state employees already have approved the deal, with three more unions announcing ratification votes today, but under the complex rules of SEBAC, the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, ratification appears certain to fail.
Ratification requires two things: approval by 14 of the 15 unions in the coalition; and the unions in favor must represent 80 percent of unionized state employees.
The likely rejection by AFSCME Council 4 will block SEBAC from reaching the 80-percent threshold, since the union represents about one-third of all state employees. AFSCME completes it voting by midnight tonight, but results will not be tallied until Friday morning, accoridng to the union.
Malloy said he will try to minimize the impact of the budget revisions on the cities and towns in the first year of the biennium, since they already have set their budgets. They should expect cuts, however, in the second year.
He has ruled out additional tax increases.
The governor said he expected the legislature to be receptive to his plan.
“I think there’s an understanding that the world is changing, that despite many people’s best efforts, we have to go down a different road,” Malloy said. “I believe that ultimately we’ll have the authority to do that what’s necessary.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, told members of the Democratic majority in an email that they will be asked to vote on substantial legislation next week.
“It will likely involve significant layoffs and increasing the recission authority of the governor on a temporary basis in a manner similar to what the legislature did for Governor Rowland a number of years ago,” Williams wrote.
Recission authority gives the governor discretion to make budget cuts without a further vote by the legislature.
“We all wish this were unnecessary,” Williams wrote. “The failure to ratify by state employees does more harm to them and the cause of labor than anything their enemies could possibly achieve. It’s unbelievable that they don’t understand that.”
Many of them apparently did. Another three unions have voted to ratify the deal by wide margins, bringing the list to 11: the Administrative & Residual Union, the Congress of Community Colleges, and CSEA/SEIU Local 2001.
The 11 unions to vote yes:
- New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199/SEIU, representing 7,700 nurses, doctors, social workers, technicians and others in a various of agencies and facilities, including the UConn Health Center.
- AAUP at the University of Connecticut, representing 2,000 faculty and researchers at the main campus in Storrs and regional campuses in West Hartford, Waterbury, Torrington, Stamford and Avery Point.
- Connecticut Association of Prosecutors, representing 260 state prosecutors.
- Connecticut Federation of School Administrators, representing 61 principals and others at 18 vocational technical high schools.
- Connecticut Police and Fire union, representing about 900 public-safety personnel across state government, with the exception of state police officers.
- AFT Connecticut, representing 6,800 employees in higher education, health care, vocational education and other areas.
- AAUP in the Connecticut State University system, representing 1,150 faculty, counselors and others.
- AAUP at the UConn Health Center, representing 550 faculty.
- Administrative & Residual Union, representing 3,300 state administrative workers.
- Congress of Community Colleges, representing 2,000 faculty and professional staff.
- CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, representing 3,900 workers, ranging from bridge inspectors to state police supervisors.
The union voting no:
- Connecticut Employees Union Independent, representing 4,500 maintenance and service employees.
The three unions yet to vote or report:
- AFSCME Council 4, representing 15,600 employees across state government, inlcuding correction officers, social workers, higher-education administrators, and clerical workers.
- Connecticut State Police Union, representing 1,150 troopers, sergeants and master sergeants.
- IBPO/SEIU Local 731, representing 750 judicial marshals.