A proposal that would require businesses in Connecticut with 50 or more employees has been one of the most hotly contested bills of the 2011 session of the General Assembly. The controversial measure has now been approved (barely) by the appropriations committee after four hours of debate but it may need the active backing of Gov. Dannel Malloy to pass the state senate, Capitol insiders tell The Hanging Shad. That may not be a good sign for the bill given that Malloy is neck-deep in the on-going and fluid budget situation.
Both sides of the paid sick leave issue he staked out their positions and are not budging. That was evident in the debate in the appropriations committee. Proponents say it’s a public health and social policy issue. Opponents say it’s a job-killer at a time when businesses can least afford it. It passed the committee 28 to 24.
The real test may come in the state senate where passage is anything but assured despite the strong Democratic majority. Insiders say Gov. Malloy’s personal push for the bill might be needed to push it over the top. Malloy has said he supports the measure (and he had the guts to say so in front of an audience of business people months ago) but has not lobbied senators for it largely because he has his hands full with the budget. “Malloy needs to get involved if this is going to pass [the senate],” said one insider. It’s unclear if that’s going to happen.
Malloy’s dance with the state employee unions over concessions to help balance the budget is getting old and fortunately, is coming up on some contractual deadlines. First, layoff notices were going out last Friday if $2 billion in concessions over two years from labor were not agreed upon. That was delayed for talks over the weekend. Then this morning, labor leaders reported the notices wouldn’t go out before Tuesday morning. Malloy may be playing the situation just right, allowing extra time to reach a deal. But with each delay comes a warning that it doesn’t mean a deal is imminent. Malloy is coming close to being the boy who cried “layoffs!” And in the meantime, important measures like paid sick leave may fail.