During a hearing Monday, Connecticut legislators heard testimony from across the spectrum on a massive new public employee contract proposal negotiated by Governor Lamont. The House and Senate must vote to approve or reject the new deal.
Proponents have a clear message, the multiple raises, and bonuses for public employees (who also received pay raises during the pandemic) are modest… and so modest they almost can’t support them! Yet, they overwhelmingly do support them. Which is a good sign taxpayers should look more closely.
In recent years, it seems Connecticut state payrolls have been growing plenty, “Connecticut’s spending on state employee pay has grown in recent years – reaching a record high of about $4.9 billion each of the past two years, according to an analysis of data from the state Comptroller’s office,” (CTInsider).
The new proposal, an agreement between Governor Lamont and 15 state government unions (negotiating as the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition) comes on the heels of this spending growth, and Connecticut’s budget having benefited from many New York City commuters staying home full-time and paying more consumption taxes in the state.
The Yankee Institute highlights just how significant the new costs imposed by this deal would be for taxpayers:
“The agreements call for a pair of bonuses totaling $3,500 for full-time employees and up to two retroactive raises, to be followed by up to two raises each in July 2022 and July 2023. For some employee groups, salaries would climb 21 percent over the next 15 months. Recent retirees would have their pensions retroactively increased based on what their final pay would have been. Limited data shared by the Lamont administration show the deal would add well over $1 billion to state costs in the first 27 months alone.”
The proposal would also require state agencies to publish lists of employees who did not want to join the union, opening the door to intimidation tactics to bolster the union ranks. The door would then be open for more pay negotiations in 2024, which could drive up costs even higher.
Far from being a modest agreement, Lamont and the unions have negotiated a payout that will eat up all estimated future revenue growth for 2024. That, to give state employees who already enjoy the “the fifth highest compensation premium out of the 50 states” (Nutmeg Research Initiative) even greater compensation.
This deal puts taxpayers last, and makes it clear that anyone who supports it wants their friends in government to divvy up the spoils from the hard work of Connecticut’s families and businesses. This is not a model to follow for any state that wants to encourage growth, and attract new residents. This is another bad deal in a long line of bad decisions that keep driving Americans away from high-tax, big-spending Blue States to low-tax states. The Connecticut legislature should reject it. With Democrats in-control in Hartford, and the Governor’s stamp of approval on the deal, it will likely take public outrage to turn back the proposal.