I have read numerous articles by the Connecticut Mirror that routinely lay the blame for our unfunded health and retirement benefits on under-saving for these plans for decades.
While this is true, it ignores the fact that the unions were complicit in this under-funding and other significant contributing factors.
State pension and healthcare agreements are rife with abuse. They are significantly more generous than the private sector and are unsustainable. These contracts have not been negotiated in good faith.
First, the Speaker of the State House has been an employee of these unions whilst supposedly representing our state as our most prominent legislator. This conflicted arrangement has existed for decades. For our ethics commission to say that there is no conflict of interest is evidence of how deep the corruption goes. It is no secret, that the state employee unions are the Democrats’ base.
Second, many of those involved in negotiating contracts representing the state and municipalities are negotiating their own contract. I have talked with an attorney that has been involved in the process that has stated the negotiating parties own contracts are based on the provisions in state and municipal contracts they are negotiating. How can this be fairly representing the citizens of our state?
Third, the promises made in these agreements were not based on an ability to pay for them. The promises bought votes now. No one cared about promises made decades in the future. Is a contract valid if the provisions made are unrealistic?
The crushing problems of these corrupt agreements are the primary reason that every sector of our state is being thrown under the bus. Connecticut citizens are expendable, the state employee unions and their employees are not.
I am not trying to vilify state workers. They are victims too. Our government officials and their unions are lying to them and using them for political efficacy. State pension and healthcare liabilities continue to grow at an alarming rate consuming a larger and larger percentage of our budget. Mathematically, these promises cannot be honored. Our attempts to shore up these agreements with more taxes and less services to our citizens is putting Connecticut into an economic death spiral making the situation worse.
I spoke to a Democratic state senator about our inability to pay for these promises over the long term. Her response was, “but we owe it to them.” She missed the point, or rather refused to acknowledge the truth. I am reminded of a time I was working with a company that was heading for bankruptcy. I overheard the accounts payable specialist taking to a vendor. He said in a very kind voice, “look we are not bad people, I really would like to pay you but we just don’t have any money.”
This is the fate that awaits our state workers and the citizens of our state. We need to have an honest assessment and a renegotiation of these contracts, not to take something away from state employees, but to ensure that they receive what they need 10, 20, 50 years from now. We need to ensure that the citizens of our state and the employees of our state are fairly represented.
Douglas Thompson, a CPA, lives in Burlington.