A lot of state employees have been whining and crying that their boss, Governor Malloy hasn’t touched base since he wrote that nice email the first day he took office back in January.
Apparently the complaint is they are frustrated and scared because the Malloy Administration hasn’t provided any information about how the proposed $2 billion cut to state employee salaries and benefits will be achieved.
Personally, I don’t know what all the yelping is about. It’s not like it’s the boss’ job to hold every employee’s hand every time things get a little tough.
The fact is, as Malloy’s chief advisor said just the other day in the Stamford Advocate “There is a road map to get there…the $2 billion is realistic".
It’s not like the new Administration doesn’t want to make the “road map” public, they can’t say more because the Administration and the state employee union leadership have agreed not to negotiate through the media.
Think back, the whole reason the Secret Plan to Bomb Cambodia during the Vietnam War was secret. If we told the enemy that we were going to bomb them then it wouldn’t be a secret would it?
I mean face it, that’s just the way things work. Did you expect us to tell Moammar Gadhafi the other day that we were going to fire off 120 ($1 million a piece) tomahawk missiles in the first few hours of our effort to bring him down? Of course not!
So the state employees and their families are a bit out of line demanding some memo or letter from Malloy laying out his plan for concessions.
That said, considering some of my best friends are state employees and I do feel their pain, I’m going to provide them with a version of the note that they would have received had the Governor been able to take the time to write it himself.
It might go something like this...
State Capitol, Hartford
To: Connecticut’s State Employees
From: [this is where it would say Governor Dannel Malloy]
First let me take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Monday and I know I speak for many in our great state when I tell you that I appreciate the fact that you get up and go to work.
I know some of you are angry that I haven’t written but you need to understand that I am very busy.
I am the Governor and I inherited this terrible budget deficit. The 49% of Connecticut who elected me, including most of you, did so because you knew I had the courage and conviction to make the tough choices. If you didn’t want a governor like that, well, you shouldn’t have voted for me.
Now I want to be clear. My budget is the best option out there. Deviating from my plan in any way will only makes things worse. We need to get this done and we don’t have the luxury of having some protracted debate about getting the rich to pay their fair share. This is the budget and the legislature needs to pass it as is and go home and blame any bad news on me.
We are not here to talk about more taxes and more spending. We need to find enough cuts to balance this budget and I am 100% committed to the notion of shared sacrifice.
In order to achieve your allotment of sacrifice, Connecticut’s state employees must provide $1 billion dollars in concessions this year and another $1 billion next year (on top of paying the higher taxes, etc. etc.).
So, as my advisor has told you, we have a plan but we can’t share the details with you.
However, since I share your pain and I am a friend to Connecticut's working men and women, I will give you the basic outline.
What we need to do is the following:
Freeze state employee wages – that will save the state budget $160 million
Institute 3 Furlough Days – saves $43 million
Reduce the state employee work week to from 37.5 to 35 hours (Excludes the 12,500 who work in 24/7 facilities and some state employees who already work a 35 hour week). It comes to about a 6-8% pay cut for those impacted but - saves $151 million
Make State employees contribute 3% to the State Employees Retirement Fund (I know many of you already pay into the fund but the public doesn’t know that so I need to make this point a big one) – saves $96 million
Put a cap on all cost of living adjustments for retirees – saves $46 million
Change the way pensions are calculated so that they are based on the employees top 5 years instead of the present system of using the top 3 years – saves $22 million
Increase medical premiums for all active and retires (some people say it isn’t legal for us to do this to retirees but they are wrong and I’m right) - saves $34 million
Now these “concessions” generate a total savings of $551 million. We only have $449 million to go:
So my first thought was to cut pay by 5% on top of the 35 hour work week cut and the furlough days – this would save $170 million but unfortunately, that leaves us $279 million short of what you need to give in order to meet your shared sacrifice amount.
So, forget the 5%. We need to do everything on the list above and then cut everyone’s pay by 10%. This saves an additional $330 million.
Problem is you are still short of what you need to meet your quota by $119 million.
It’s a problem, so what the hell, let’s go with the 10% pay cut and an additional 9 more furlough days on top of the 3 I already listed. That gets you to 12 furlough days.
And the good news is, you do all of those things and you’ve hit your mark.
Wage freeze, 10% cut in pay, 12 furlough days, 35 hour work week, higher pension payment and co-pays and a few other tweaks and we are done. It comes up to a pay cut somewhere in the range of about 20% but hey you are state employees – so it’s not like you didn’t know you weren’t going to be a target.
Of course, there is the alternative. We could do all those other things including the wage freeze, the 12 furlough days, the other changes and a pay cut of only 5%. The problem then is that I will have to lay 5,000 of you off to make the budget balance.
But as I said, my people are committed to a fair negotiation process, so which will it be. Do you want the truly massive pay cuts or just the really massive pay cuts and layoffs?
Look around, take your time and talk to your colleagues. No rush….
I just need your answer in the next couple of weeks or I’ll have to shred the state’s safety net and blame it on you and as you know, cutting vital services will do incredible damage to Connecticut’s most innocent and vulnerable citizens.
But really, it’s all up to you.
Like I said, we’re committed to fair negotiations.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
And remember, I'm your governor so stop by anytime.