STATE EMPLOYEE ‘LONGEVITY’ PAY IN THE COST-CUTTING CROSSHAIRS

Reporting today from Boston…

It was only a matter of time before twice-yearly payments to state workers who have been in state service at least ten years became the focus of cost-cutting lawmakers in the legislature. So-called “longevity payments” were targeted for elimination last year but survived the budget process.  They are already on the chopping block in this year of historic deficits.

Unable to resist the already-tiresome April Fool’s Day metaphor, state Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney put the longevity payments, largely unheard of in the private sector, squarely in the crosshairs. “Many people might think these longevity payments to union and non-union state employees are an April Fool’s joke,” McKinney said Thursday. “Unfortunately, the joke is on Connecticut taxpayers.” More than 30,000 state employees will receive a total of $19.9 million in bonuses later this month because they’ve worked for the state for more than 10 years.

The Shad never received longevity pay, never having reached the ten-year mark. However, I do know many people who do. And the problem is that many people count those payments as part of their yearly income for family budgeting purposes. Halting them would negatively impact a family as far as planning whether it be college tuition, home repairs after a tough winter or possibly the purchase of a new car or other consumer goods.

The longevity payments seem like low-hanging fruit as far as budget cut-backs but when they have a human face on them, it makes one think twice.