With all the attention that was focused on cutting and balancing the state's budget this year, it's astonishing that seemingly no one in the legislature or the governor's office was aware of a language change.
Further, how is it they apparently are unable to say who rewrote the bill they spent months creating. Connecticut media outlets are reporting that legislative leaders, as well as rank and file legislators, claim that they did not know that the legislation they adopted made this extraordinary change.
For example when State Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, learned that the bill whe had voted for would grant non-unionized workers longevity payments, she reportedly said, "Oh my God, it's outrageous." Prague is one of labor's strongest advocates and co-chairwoman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee.
Meanwhile, a grievance was filed earlier this month by union members who accepted a two-year freeze on longevity payments with what they thought was the understanding that managers would take equivalent cuts under Gov. Malloy's budget. The unions maintain that the managers should also forgo their bonuses. Although it is curious that the unions failed to voice any opposition to the legislative change when it was proposed, adopted and signed into law. Regardless, members of the state police and the prison supervisors unions, both of which rejected the wage and benefits deal offered by Gov. Malloy, will get full longevity payments.
All this deepens the question as to why Democratic Gov. Malloy — the self described champion of "shared sacrifice" — would sign into law a provision that withholds longevity payments from most rank and file state employees while giving them to the state's elite employees remains a mystery.
Although Democratic leaders remain mum about the rationale behind their decision, what is clear is that some of the individuals most closely associated with this policy change will personally benefit.
Three members of Gov. Malloy's personal staff will now be receiving longevity bonuses including Michael Christ one of his two top legislative liaisons, who once served as a member and leader in the House of Representatives.
Two of the top five officials in Malloy's Office of Policy and Management will also be getting these bonuses including Mark Ojakian the deputy secretary, who served as the governor's chief negotiator during the recent union concession discussions.
Kevin Graff, Senate President Donald William's chief of staff, and Laura Jordan, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan's top legal advisor, will also be getting the bonuses.
Even one of the state's two legislative commissioners, William Hamzy, the former Republican state legislator will now be getting a longevity bonus thanks to this latest change.
Faced with the major tax increases and record spending cuts made in the name of balancing the budget, the public deserves an answer to the question: Who was really orchestrating this behind the scenes effort to provide bonuses to this politically important group of state employees?
Link to Courant Piece: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-pelto-bonus-1016-20111016,0,3046723.story