Social Networks We Use

Categories

CT Tech Junkie Feed

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Completes Successful Unmanned First Mission
Dec 5, 2014 11:30 am
An unmanned test flight of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft was successful this morning, flying higher than any human-rated...more »
2014 Connecticut International Auto Show to Feature Electric Vehicles And More
Nov 20, 2014 9:00 am
State automobile retailers are hoping to educate consumers about the benefits of electric vehicles at the Connecticut...more »

Our Partners

˜

$135M More In State Budget Reductions Identified

by Christine Stuart | Sep 6, 2011 2:35pm
(8) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: State Capitol

Christine Stuart photo

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes

(Updated 5:30 p.m.) Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes identified $135 million in savings and spending reductions needed to help balance the two-year, $40.1 billion state budget Tuesday.

“This is another example of the governor’s commitment to making government smaller and more efficient,” Barnes said Tuesday. “We’ve said all along that there were a number of cuts proposed in the so-called ‘Plan B’ budget that made a lot of sense and didn’t harm necessary services. These cuts will go forward as we work to meet the goals identified in our budget plan.”

The savings, which were estimated as budget lapses in May when the budget was signed into law, include the closure of Bergin Correctional Institution, reduction of security in state buildings, reductions in printing costs, and an increase in retirements and vacancies.

It also accounts for the layoffs of 56 state troopers. The savings for those positions are estimated at $2.2 million. The remaining troopers will be laid off at the end of this week.

The Connecticut State Police Union was one of two bargaining units that failed to ratify the two-year wage freeze, which was part of the $1.6 billion concession package. The other was 21 Corrections supervisors unit. The elimination of those positions will save the state $8.6 million.

As for the closure of the Mansfield prison, Barnes said it was sped up after the first labor concession deal failed. The state will realize $5.8 million from the early closure of Bergin. Closure of a second prison, such as Enfield Correctional Institute, is still possible this year, but it was not included as part of the list Barnes distributed Tuesday.

That list also included the elimination of the casino bus, which was a service provided by the Department of Social Services when the two casinos were opened more than a decade ago.

“The casino bus was put in place at a time when there was a very difficult time filling positions at the casinos—15 years ago—things have changed,” Barnes said. The elimination of the bus will save the state more than $270,000.

The additional $135 million in budget reductions, was always identified in the budget as a goal, but Tuesday was the first time those reductions and savings were identified.

Some of them came about after the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition failed to ratify the first labor agreement in June. Some were realized after passage of the $1.6 billion labor agreement this past August.

“State employees remain concerned about a number of additional service shutdowns that will have a negative impact on Connecticut residents if they go forward,” Matt O’Connor, a SEBAC spokesman, said. “The recent closure of the Bergin Correctional Institution threatens safety and security in the state’s crowded remaining prisons, for example.”

“In some cases, planned cuts won’t even save money,” O’Connor added referring to the Early Connections program for infants and toddlers run by the Department of Developmental Services. The decision to end admissions to the program was made by the agency and it’s unclear if the cut is reflected in the numbers Barnes distributed Tuesday.

Joan Barnish, spokeswoman DDS, said last week the program currently has 223 children enrolled, the youngest of which is six months old. She said the redeployment of most of the staff won’t happen for another two and a half years, but is part of the department’s effort to transition the program to the private sector.

Currently, it costs the state $20,000 to educate a child in the state-run program, while it costs a private provider about $8,400 per child, Barnish said.

“These are examples of why a collaborative approach between the front-line workers who deliver vital services and management in state agencies is critical,” O’Connor said Tuesday. “Only with our help can the administration make better choices for achieving greater efficiency without sacrificing Connecticut’s quality of life.”

The savings Barnes identified Tuesday are expected to increase as the number of state employees who decide to retire before Oct. 1 increases. There was no early retirement plan offered as part of the concession deal, but the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement made it less lucrative for employees to retire after Oct. 1.

“We already have 2,500 vacant positions in state government. I expect that number to grow hundreds more,” Barnes said.

He said September will be a busy month for employees in the state Comptroller’s office processing retirements. He said they’ve already received a lot of interest from more state employees than assumed by the $65 million in retirement savings estimated as part of the SEBAC agreement.

“We claim no originality here. These are ideas we have been working around,” Barnes said.

Barnes noted that the amounts identified in the attached document will be held back by OPM from agencies’ requested allocations.

“These are not rescissions and not changes to line-items,” he said. “They are budgeted amounts OPM will hold back from the agencies. If, as the year progresses, the state’s fiscal picture deteriorates, the governor retains the rescission authority granted him by statute.”

The governor can rescind up to 5 percent for most of state government and 3 percent of any fund, except aid to municipalities.

“We will meet our budget goals,” Barnes said. “And we won’t push budget problems into the future. This Governor has every intention of providing the citizens of Connecticut a fiscally responsible and responsive government. These cuts are another step towards that goal.” 

Tags: , , , ,

Share this story with others.

Share | |

(8) Comments

posted by: NOW What? | September 6, 2011  3:44pm

This is a GOOD thing, and if he were smart Malloy would just make the cuts permanent. Many of them are part of the hiring freeze.

posted by: sickofit | September 6, 2011  3:59pm

“These are not rescissions and not changes to line-items,” he said. “They are budgeted amounts OPM will hold back from the agencies. If, as the year progresses, the state’s fiscal picture deteriorates, the Governor retains the rescission authority granted him by statute.”
These are not rescissions, they’re “holdbacks” WTF??? So, he can still make 5% rescissions across the board. Boy, it’s nice when you’re free to interpret statute any way you please. He must have learned that from SEBAC.

posted by: ohmygoodness | September 6, 2011  7:02pm

Why are we laying off troopers when we have ‘temporary’ employees throughout the state whose layoffs were rescinded… and they are on our state health insurance if they have been on the job for at least 6 months. This is ridiculous….jeopardize the safety of the state…and keep the people who are temporary…what part of this makes any sense ?!

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 6, 2011  7:49pm

Hopefully, Ben Barnes projections will materialize, for the good of the State of Connecticut.

posted by: ... | September 6, 2011  9:57pm

...

It is truly impressive the amount of savings that are going into the retirements and resignations of various state workers. This document appears to project about one in every five dollars being saved through retirements (not including the 65 million in the SEBAC agreement, I assume).

posted by: Jim in Mfg | September 7, 2011  2:08pm

From the budget reductions:  “GF Dept of Emergency Services and Public Protection Modify Fleet Lease Payment Schedule from 4 Years to 5 Years (1,566,995)”

This seems like another bit of smoke.  If I understand it correctly, this is just streaching out the payment cycle, not reducing expenses.  Ya gotta luv this cash accounting, change your mortgate duration from 4 to 5 years and then call the reduction in this years payments a “savings”.

posted by: Upset.Citizen | September 8, 2011  5:03am

Upset.Citizen

I have my popcorn ready for the next act in this drama! 

A funny thing happens when you put your older staff into a position of forced retirement by changing the rules on them. 

With all the new found time on their hands they tend to file class action suits based on age discrimination!

posted by: NOW What? | September 8, 2011  3:38pm

Lawsuits directed “against” the State are not threatening; rather, they can - and should - be viewed as a means by which the legal viability of a particular course of action can be determined and/or established.

LEGISLATIVE modification of the terms and benefits of government employees’ pensions - in the *absence* of an active and relevant legal CONTRACT - have been reviewed by courts in many instances. Virtually all of those cases have resulted in it being determined that modifying such terms and benefits, particularly regarding those of employees not yet vested in their pension plan, can be modified regardless of an employee’s age. Although making such changes to fully vested employees’ pension plans have not been as thoroughly tested in courts, a review of past and present cases leads most to conclude that a) being vested only guarantees one the continued right to *participate* in the government employer’s pension plan, NOT the terms of the plan that were in effect on the date of becoming vested, b) legislative modification of the terms and benefits of one’s pension can be effected up until the date one actually starts collecting one’s pension benefits, c) only one’s BASE pension benefit is protected, not necessarily other pension benefits (for example, a COLA), d) plan participants’ age(s) does not alter a legislature’s ability to modify participants’ plan terms up until the date of plan distribution to the participants, and e) the only way to preclude or prevent such unilateral legislative changes is through the engagement of a relevant and legally binding CONTRACT.

Thus, State of Connecticut employees and retirees are *best* served by the continued engagement of a well-written and mutually agreed upon legal contract, the terms of which are to be in effect for as long as possible and are “backed up” by legislation that is called for within the contract.  In the absence of such a contract, the state’s legislature would be free to unilaterally modify all of the terms of the state’s pension plans as it sees fit, possibly including eliminating a defined benefit plan altogether for all new employees, “freezing” the benefits of vested employees to the level that they were ACCRUED as of the date of elimination of the plan(s), and simply distributing to not-yet-vested employees their contributions (if any) to their plan along with interest accrued as of the date of distribution.