Preparing for a New Administration: Finally Our Voice Can Be Heard

by Matt O'Connor on December 3rd

Connecticut has faced considerable budget battles in the past and members of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) unions have always faced those challenges by working to achieve the highest quality services with the highest cost savings for the state. During the last two administrations, our ideas have mostly fallen on deaf ears. As we face the most difficult fiscal crisis in recent history, our members are looking forward to working with a new administration to share ideas about how public structures can help thrust our state’s economy out of recession.

Toward that end, SEBAC is creating a process by which rank and file members can exchange their ideas and generate proposals for preserving fundamental public structures. We believe we can preserve those that are necessary to our economic recovery while enhancing government efficiency. SEBAC hopes that the new Malloy Administration will not only be open to our members’ ideas, but will direct managers to actively support and encourage the process.

Newly formed subcommittees will provide a system for bringing workers together across bargaining units to develop real solutions. These social service, administrative, judicial and education front-line workers (to name a few) have the knowledge and experience to determine where efficiencies can be made, but not at the expense of the “customers” they serve – the people of the state.

Members will look at rebalancing resources towards the provision of front-line services, and toward the programs that make the biggest differences in our communities. They will share their perceptions of savings generated from reviewing costly privatization that can be done more cheaply in-house, and reviewing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles which make front-line services both slower and most costly to provide.

Already SEBAC representatives have shared proposals that would improve the quality of services we all count on, save precious tax dollars, and protect the quality of life for all communities in the state. These include:

  • Allowing municipalities, school boards, non-profits and small businesses to join the state health plan’s purchasing pool. For the same costs, better outcomes can be achieved — in this case, lower municipal taxes, more competitive small businesses, perhaps even healthcare for some private sector employees not currently able to afford it.
  • Fully funding the State Contracting Standards Board so it can carry out its crucial ongoing functions in analyzing the billions of dollars in privatized state services. Only in this way can we ensure that Connecticut is not spending millions of dollars to perform work that can be done far more cheaply and efficiently by state employees.
  • State services and programs with high costs should be reviewed for internal leveraging, comprehensive savings, and maximizing outcomes. For example, there should be analysis of areas where the current capital/human resources ratio produces high cost of human service delivery. In these cases, the outcomes might be improved by expanding the use of facilities when taking into account other communities in need of services.
  • Offering incentives to employees to work longer, which would reward senior workers who decide to remain and provide their services and expertise during the current crisis.

    SEBAC hopes to bring its members and the governor-elect’s management team together to continue this essential analytical work and bring those results to the new administration. Only through partnership can these goals be achieved. By continuing the discussions and formalizing the process with our members, we can hit the ground running in January.

    Nothing is more important than the future of our economy and the quality of life in our state.

    To learn more about SEBAC’s campaign for a fair budget and a livable state with great public services visit www.InThisTogetherCT.org.

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