Reopening of State Labor Contracts to Balance Budget Unlikely (Right Now)

The top senator in the Connecticut General Assembly says there will be no effort to reopen state labor contracts to save money and help restore social services cuts—at least not right now. Senate President Marty Looney says unlike four years ago, union concessions are not part of the budget plan. A Republican alternative budget floated by the minority party Friday relies heavily on savings from labor to restore cuts to the state’s safety net and not raise taxes.

Looney says concessions are not part of the plan. “At this point, I don’t think so.” While rejecting labor givebacks at this point, Looney says the alternative budget is a positive sign. “They [Republicans] deserve credit for putting firth a plan instead of sniping from the sidelines and parts of their plan may make it into the final budget plan.”

But Looney says, the minority’s plan has problems. “I think it contains some unrealistic assumptions.”

Senate President Martin Looney
Senate President Martin Looney

The governor’s office was much more dismissive of the Republicans’ plan. “Republicans offer Connecticut a false choice—the only way that this budget could be implemented would be to either illegally break state contracts or lay off thousands of hard-working, middle-class families, stopping our economic recovery dead in its tracks. It’s just not serious,” said Malloy administration spokesman Mark Bergman.

The Democratic state party was even more negative. “Yet again, Republican leaders thought they could fool residents of Connecticut. This is not a serious budget and offers a false choice—one that could lead to thousands of layoffs…In February, Governor Malloy acknowledged harsh fiscal realities and made tough choices to put forward a budget. But this Republican proposal is nothing short of delusional,” said party Communications Director Leigh Appleby, coming nowhere close to the welcoming tone of Democratic legislative leaders.

Both the Appropriations (Monday) and Finance (Tuesday or Wednesday) are expected to report out new, two-year spending plans for the state.