RELL & UNIONS AT ODDS OVER HOW TO DEAL WITH DEFICIT

Gov. Rell has made it clear she would like the legislature to give her more power to make cuts to balance the budget in certain circumstances. The folks in the governor’s policy office must have had a good laugh when drawing up the talking points for this one. She is asking the same people (the Democratic-controlled state House and Senate) who basically ignored her last deficit mitigation plan, for the power to do what they just denied her. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, a coalition of state employee unions are calling the governor’s actions a “power grab.” They also say she would use new budget cutting powers to privatize services currently done by state workers. The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) also says contracting out state services doesn’t save the state money. In fact, it costs more in many cases. SEBAC officials contend. They point to the “Birth to Three” program as an example, saying the state is losing millions since the program was privatized and contracted out.

The Rell administration responded with a fiery comeback. Citing figures from the state Department of Developmental Services, the administration said, “According to DDS, the cost of operating the Birth to Three Early Connections program, as examined in a 2006 cost study, was 70% higher than the cost of serving a child in a contracted program ($244/hr versus $143.25/hr). Therefore, the Fiscal Year 2010 cost of serving 160 children for 12 months in Early Connections would have been $2,277,562, or $941,242 more than the actual cost of $1,336,320 to serve these children through the contracted Birth to Three programs,” said spokesman Rich Harris. That’s a pretty big discrepancy. Now she wants even more power—and less accountability—than she argued for during the debate over state contract reform. In vetoing the contract reform bills, the governor set up a contact review board to scrutinize and privatized service contracts for work previously done by state workers. That board did not meet at all last year, according to SEBAC.

Finally, the governor has said she would like to revisit things with the unions to see if there are any more savings to be squeezed out of them. Of course she gave away the only hammer (negotiation leverage) she had—layoffs—when she gave the unions a “no layoff” pledge the last time they met.

As far as bank robbers go, Robert Peschell had a particularly bad week last week. After being arrested for bank robbery, burglary and drug possession, the locals in Torrington, including the police, started calling him by a nickname derived from Peschell’s physical characteristics. So he was probably alarmed that he was arrested and offended when he heard “Police Arrest Big-Nosed Robber.”  

 Rush Limbaugh is out of the hospital and says the doctors have told him he is fine.  He was rushed to the hospital while golfing in Hawaii.  Limbaugh says he thought for sure he was having a heart attack.  The author of The Shad doubted that from the beginning because to have a heart attack, one has to actually have one.