Rell, Unions Talking

The Rep-Am reports that the governor and state employee unions are quietly talking about concessions:

Rell is already making overtures to public employee unions for help in closing the yawning budget gaps. The unions are responding cautiously and offering arguments against layoffs.

For the time being, Rell isn’t talking layoffs, but she isn’t ruling out the possibility, either. There are more than 48,000 unionized employees on the state payroll, according to administration figures. (Hughes)

Rell has supposedly learned a lesson from the labor relations disasters of the Rowland years, and is approaching the unions with a less hard-line tone than her predecessor. It’s good that they’re talking at all, of course.

Unions are taking the line that cutting employees and state services will only make times harder for the people of Connecticut. From a release from the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001:

“…When we invest in human needs and our infrastructure, we not only improve everyone’s quality of life, but we help provide the spark to revitalize our economy. If, instead, we retreat and make deep cuts now, we not only make the current crisis worse for the people of our state — we make it harder to pull out of this downward spiral in the future,” [said chief SEBAC negotiator Dan Livingston].

Union leaders, members of congress, and state legislative leaders have been discussing the need for a broad partnership that includes all levels of government and the private sector to secure the resources needed to turn Connecticut around. “We welcome the Governor’s involvement in this effort,” said Livingston “It will be a struggle either way, but it’s far better that we struggle to begin a positive cycle of reinvestment, hope, and renewal, than a vicious cycle of cutback, despair, and decline.”

We’ll see if unions and the governor can come to any sort of agreement during the next legislative session.

Source
Hughes, Paul. “State unions, governor talking possible concessions.” Waterbury Republican-American, 25 November, 2008.

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16 responses to “Rell, Unions Talking

  1. Livingston’s statement sounds an awful lot like George Jepsen’s Op-Ed in Sunday’s Courant. No specifics, just platitudes. Long way from dealing with $Billlions of problems.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I suspect the only role of the private sector he really envisions is paying for everything.

  3. BruceRubenstein

    these meetings are positive and ought to be encouraged..its nice to see politicians acting like adults for once..

  4. [quote comment=”38823″]these meetings are positive and ought to be encouraged..its nice to see politicians acting like adults for once..[/quote]
    Give it time

  5. I mantain that these “advocate” roles should be slashed. I would really like to know what Rob Simmons has really achieved over the course of the last two years? We have seen large numbers of small businesses leaving the state or closing. He travels the state with his can of Alphabet Soup talking about the red tape that exists in the state – isn’t that a problem that should be reformed? Having an advocate to cut the red tape is expensive – why not simply get rid of that red tape?

    Another position that should be whacked is the military advocate – Justin Bernier. Simmons’s prodigee who would have had to collect unemployment after the 2006 loss was nicely positioned for this job. The problem – he has accomplished nothing of merit. Has the state made any investment in the submarine base? Nope. The governor has her Washington office, the Washington Group lobbying firm, and Justin. With all three of those expensive budgets reporting very unimpressive successes, I ask why keep them? They are redundant and should be explored for trimming.

  6. I say if the union bosses don’t want to make concessions, and would rather lose a few employees before giving up gold-plated benefits, they should settle who gets fired with a belching contest.

  7. [quote comment=”38827″]I mantain that these “advocate” roles should be slashed. I would really like to know what Rob Simmons has really achieved over the course of the last two years? We have seen large numbers of small businesses leaving the state or closing. He travels the state with his can of Alphabet Soup talking about the red tape that exists in the state – isn’t that a problem that should be reformed? Having an advocate to cut the red tape is expensive – why not simply get rid of that red tape?

    Another position that should be whacked is the military advocate – Justin Bernier. Simmons’s prodigee who would have had to collect unemployment after the 2006 loss was nicely positioned for this job. The problem – he has accomplished nothing of merit. Has the state made any investment in the submarine base? Nope. The governor has her Washington office, the Washington Group lobbying firm, and Justin. With all three of those expensive budgets reporting very unimpressive successes, I ask why keep them? They are redundant and should be explored for trimming.[/quote]
    Can’t disagree. But why stop there? “Permanent” Commission on the Status of Women and all the other Commisions should be on the chopping block too. The only God knows how many economic development agencies should be looked at for real results. I’m sure the list goes on and on.

  8. [quote post=”2380″]I’m sure the list goes on and on. [/quote]

    Agreed.

  9. I would like to throw out another proposal. For bonded projects such as Rentschler Field or the Ct Convention Center( I’m not necessarily picking on these two) there be a requirement that Financial Statements that include financing expenses for the facilities be published on an annual basis. We bond a lot of money in this state to build facilities that are supported with all sorts of promises. And then we never hear about the how they actually worked out.
    One example from OPM’s Web page: For F/Y 09 “The Rent” is budgeted to produce $161,000 of net income, but this is before financing costs which for a $92 Million investment are substantial. I’ll bet the cost to OPM to monitor the stadium and all the subcontracts, etc chews up a good portion of that $161k. Wouldn’t it be more transparent and fair to publish a P&L?
    Now I’m not saying that all these projects need to be profitable, and I understand the arguments on the ancillary economic benefits. However, knowing that the actual financial results will be public may promote more careful vetting and and require greater scrutiny of the benefits promised by the proponents.

  10. I think it’s interesting to compare the Connecticut state budget ($18.4 billion) with the Oklahoma state budget ($7.4 billion).

    Oklahoma has 3.6 million people and Connecticut has 3.5 million people. Oklahoma has a Democratic governor and a Republican state senate and Republican state house. Connecticut has the opposite (well, OK will have a Republican senate, it was tied before election day).

    EDUCATION: Connecticut’s 2009 budget has $3.77 billion. Oklahoma’s 2009 budget (see page 19 of the link) has $3.919 billion.

    TRANSPORTATION: Connecticut has $507.3 million, Oklahoma has $220.8 million. Yeah, we’ve got a much denser population meaning the roads are used a lot more, but still…

    HEALTH: Connecticut spends $1.666 billion, Oklahoma spends $1.15 billion.

    HUMAN SERVICES: Connecticut spends $4.911 billion, Oklahoma spends $781 million. I don’t see any other categories that the Okies could be spending this but calling something different, but there can’t be this big a discrepancy. But the discrepancy here is very large in any event.

    SAFETY AND SECURITY: Oklahoma spends $744 million plus $37 million on the judiciary; Connecticut spends $1.58 billion on corrections and another $547 million on judicial.

    DEBT SERVICE: Connecticut spends $1.993 billion. Oklahoma has some debt, not sure how it’s worked into their numbers (and don’t have the time to hunt for it). Oklahoma’s debt is fairly low, and looks to be mainly turnpike authority debt. “Finance and Revenue” is $108 million, perhaps that is where it is?

    In any event, the numbers between the two states won’t be directly comparable, but it’d be interesting to see CT compared to other states. Because we’ve got one of the highest rates of spending per capita. Where is the spending out of whack? Why? What would be the consequences of reducing said spending?

  11. Closing bold. … Sorry. No preview

  12. another close bold tag. Must have made it open instead of close in the original.

  13. Connecticut apparently has the fastest-growing prison population in the country. We dodged a bullet by zapping three strikes. Maybe Rell could end her weird anti-pot thing and let out the non-violent drug users?

  14. That said, one item in the linked chart that didn’t show up in your tally was “Non-Functional / Fringes” at $2.3B/year. Any idea what actually resides in there? It seems like an obvious place to start, especially since that’s very roughly the projected deficit for each of the next two years.

  15. “That said, one item in the linked chart that didn’t show up in your tally was “Non-Functional / Fringes” at $2.3B/year. Any idea what actually resides in there? ”

    Matt I share your concern what actually resides in there. I am also very impressed and even a bit hopeful that more people are starting to ask these sort of questions. The more people do, the better chance we have of getting the General Assembly off the auto pilot of wasteful spending, and onto doing the job we have elected them to do.

  16. Aha – that’s where the debt service, retirement funds, healthcare, and social security taxes are at — along with property taxes paid to town governments. So a lot of that is what’s being haggled over in the story here.

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