SEBAC Welcomes Discussions with Governor Malloy; Stresses Importance of Public Structures to Support Economic Recoveryby Larry Dorman on February 7th
State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) leaders are meeting with the Malloy Administration to present savings and transformation proposals from frontline workers. The first phase this process has been informal and expedited in the hopes of providing help in the state’s current fiscal crisis. SEBAC welcomes the discussions with Governor Malloy but stresses that they are not negotiations, and have not involved collective bargaining issues.
State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) leaders are meeting with the Malloy Administration to present savings and transformation proposals from frontline workers. This is just the first stage of what we hope will be a long-term permanent process involving rank and file members in transforming state government. The resulting proposals will enhance revenues, reduce bureaucratic costs and achieve greater efficiencies in government.
This is the process that Governor Dannel Malloy stressed in his campaign when he promised to listen to the ideas of front-line workers — and to implement or explain the reasons why not.
The first phase this process has been informal and expedited in the hopes of providing help in the state’s current fiscal crisis. SEBAC welcomes the discussions with Governor Malloy but stresses that they are not negotiations, and have not involved collective bargaining issues.
We fully realize the governor inherited a $3.5 billion deficit and must articulate a plan to close that deficit when he gives his budget address on February 16th. We also realize that the budget that ultimately passes the General Assembly and is signed by the governor must be balanced. We are working hard to be helpful in that process, while at the same time stressing what the advocacy and research organization Connecticut Voices for Children has just documented again in its most recent report.
Connecticut has a revenue crisis, not a spending crisis, caused by a combination of the current recession, and a tax system in which the very wealthy and many big corporations don’t pay their fair share. In fact, the very rich in Connecticut pay less than half the percentage in state and local taxes (4.9%) compared to the middle class (about 10%), and were just given a huge break as a result of the extension of the Bush federal tax cuts. As the Voices report noted:
“Connecticut needs revenue solutions for its revenue problems. If we are going to avoid further damage to our economy, we need a balanced approach to the state deficit that takes a careful look at all our revenue options.”
The report points out that Connecticut’s state and local government is already lean — the fifth smallest in the country. Protecting the critical public services upon which people rely, and the public structures on which our economy and its recovery depend, is vital to the state’s economic recovery
We are confident that we share with this administration a common long-term goal of turning our state’s economy around and making Connecticut once again a place
where all working and middle class families can face our future with a sense of confidence and optimism. But even with that common goal, there may be real differences in perspective about how to get there. It’s still too early to tell.
Our plan will be to engage in a cooperative process that involves all of our members in resolving any differences. Our goal always will be to protect the fundamental services upon which our state depends, and to avoid the vicious cycle in which the previous administration mired our state. We warned back in February 2009 that balancing the budget during a recession primarily on cuts in spending not only damages the public structures on which people depend, “it makes the economy worse, which will only cause more suffering and future budget crises.”
Unfortunately, with then-Governor Rell in charge, the last budget deficit was closed with one-time fixes, and with nearly three times as much in service cuts as revenue increases, and now we are back in another crisis. Because of what economists call the “multiplier effect,” spending cuts insisted on by Governor Rell are likely to have cost over 50,000 private sector jobs.
We recognize the political reality that despite these economic facts, spending cuts will be part of any budget compromise, and we will work hard to find any penny we can find that doesn’t damage the public services upon which people and our economy depend.
As we’ve said, our discussions with the administration have involved only savings, not collective bargaining issues. Is it possible that will change? Not without the rank and file knowing about it and being part of it. Much remains to be seen in the upcoming budget address, and in the legislative process that follows.
The key truth is what we’ve said from the beginning. Unless Connecticut reforms its revenue structures to provide the resources it needs, all working and middle class families, public and private sector, are in for a bleak future. Connecticut can do much better than that.