CT News Junkie | More Job Cuts Announced; Judicial Branch Looking at Another 600 Layoffs

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More Job Cuts Announced; Judicial Branch Looking at Another 600 Layoffs

by | May 3, 2016 2:50pm
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Posted to: Courts, The Economy, Jobs, Labor, Legal, State Budget, Taxes

Christine Stuart file photo

Public safety worker rally at the end of March

A total of 89 state employees at the Department of Developmental Services received their pink slips Tuesday, along with one employee from the Military Department.

That brings the total number of Executive Branch layoffs up to 650. In the Judicial Branch, 126 employees were laid off last month, and officials said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s latest budget proposal would make it necessary to layoff an additional 600 judicial employees for a total of 726 in their branch of state government.

In a May 2 letter to Malloy, Chief Court Administrator Patrick L. Carroll III said the governor’s plan would be “both unprecedented and catastrophic in its consequences,” adding that there are “only about 3,700 staff members in the entire Judicial Branch.” This would equate to about one in six Judicial Branch employees being laid off.

It’s so severe that the Judicial Branch is thinking about suing.

“The reason that this letter is coming from me, as opposed to Chief Justice Rogers, is that we are concerned that the reduction in funding is so extreme that a constitutional challenge may be raised,” Carroll wrote.

Carroll said he understands legislative leaders and the governor continue to exchange ideas and negotiate a budget, but the Judicial Branch has to prepare for the “worst case scenario.” Based on the new information, Carroll said 110 judicial layoff notices will go out on Thursday. That brings the total number of executive and judicial branch layoffs up to 886.

Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders remained behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon trying to close a $960 million budget deficit for 2017.

The Judicial Branch recognizes “that even under the best circumstances, additional layoffs and courthouses closings appear unavoidable,” Carroll wrote. “We had hoped to limit these actions based upon lesser cuts that have been proposed to the Branch, but we must begin to initiate plans for widespread courthouse closings and consolidations.”

With regard to the 89 layoffs of Department of Development Service employees , SEIU 1199 spokesperson Jennifer Schneider said eliminating workers who care for Connecticut’s disabled should be a “last resort” and “not the first step in solving budget deficits.”

Malloy has maintained that even after resolving the budget deficit, Connecticut needs to realign its revenues and expenditures and in order to do that it must shrink its workforce, which accounts for about 38 percent of the state budget. Malloy administration officials have said that they plan to eliminate about 2500 positions in the Executive Branch. Of those, 360 are retirements and another 288 are vacancies that won’t be filled.

The lead negotiator for the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition has said the state labor unions are not interested in reopening their health and pension benefit contract that expires in 2022. Labor unions rallied at the state Capitol in opposition to the layoffs, and encouraged lawmakers to look at boosting revenues instead.

However, after a last-minute decision to raise revenues on businesses last year, lawmakers have maintained that tax increases are not an option this year in balancing the $960 million budget deficit for 2017.

Charles DellaRocco, president of AFSCME Local 749, which represents 1,600 Judicial Branch employees, said the governor has ignored revenue options like closing tax loopholes and modernizing outdated tax laws.

“The governor and legislative leadership have ignored other options as well, like reining in reckless outsourcing, flattening the management bureaucracy that stunts a more effective delivery of services, and implementing meaningful cost-savings ideas from front-line state workers,” DellaRocco said.

While layoffs are unpleasant DellaRocco said the Judicial Branch has handled them with a “sense of dignity,” unlike the executive branch which has walked employees off the job site at the same time they handed out the pink slips.

On Monday, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo certified a $259.1 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending June 30.

Lembo said total income tax receipts are expected to fall $559.4 million, or 5.7 percent, short of the initial budget plan. That revenue shortfall, combined with other revenue adjustments, result in projected General Fund revenue that is $430 million short of the budget plan.

The state may use its $406 million rainy day fund to cover the shortfall.

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