Dannel P. Malloy: Layoff notices will go out to 4,742 state employees this morning

Staff reports

Layoff notices will be going out this morning to 4,742 state employee, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced, after negotiations into the early hours of Tuesday between his administration and the state employees unions failed to bring about an agreement between the two sides.

Malloy said in a statement released at 8 a.m. that he told the Office of Policy and Management to begin sending out the notices in an orderly fashion this morning.

The layoffs will go into effect on July 1 and will save about $455 million, Malloy said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. The additional $545 million needed to plug the $2 billion budget hole will come from spending cuts and likely more layoffs, he said.

“Our talks have been respectful and forthright so far, and I remain willing to continue the discussions if the unions are willing to do so,” said Malloy. “However, we must all be willing to work toward a settlement that Connecticut taxpayers can afford in the long run. We held off on any layoff notifications while we tried to complete a deal over the weekend and on Monday night. Unfortunately, absent an agreement and in order to comply with contractual notice requirements and the provisions of the budget agreement signed last week, we need to begin those notifications today.”

The administration has to cut $1 billion in spending to balance the budget in each year of its two years because, Malloy said, “I refuse to raise taxes beyond what has already been agreed to.”

In a statement issued this morning on its website, the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) expressed regret that the layoff notices would be sent out and said in a statement that they would continue to meet with Malloy’s office for “at least one more day.”

“SEBAC is disappointed the administration has decided to begin issuing layoff notices,” said SEBAC spokesperson Larry Dorman in a statement. “We have said time and again that laying off workers, whether in the public or private sector, and slashing vital public services will prove disastrous to our shared goal of creating jobs and rebuilding the middle class.”

Dorman said the layoffs are especially disappointing because they come at a time when the state’s unemployment rate of 9.1 percent is already higher than the national average.

According to Malloy, the first round of layoffs “will result in savings of approximately $455 million. I’ve also directed OPM to begin the process necessary to cut an additional $545 million in spending; those cuts, many of them programmatic, will be spread across state government, and will, in all likelihood, result in additional layoffs. I want to be clear that this is not the road I wanted to go down. I didn’t want to lay people off, and I didn’t want to make additional spending cuts beyond the $780 million in spending we’ve already cut. But I have no choice. I promised the people of Connecticut that I would change the way we do business in Hartford. I promised to deliver a budget that is balanced with no gimmicks, and I will,” Malloy said.

He said that he is looking to balance the budget through “shared sacrifice” with his “fellow state employees.” Malloy said that will require state employees to bring their benefits – wages, health care and pension – “back in line,” with those in the private sector and federal workforce.

“The state employee representatives have thus far not offered enough,” Malloy said. “I want to say to the people of Connecticut, again, that this is not the road I want to go down. But I simply refuse to dig us into a deeper hole.

Dorman said in the statement that the discussion’s have been complex and “demand our continued efforts to find mutual resolution.”

“Our discussions with the administration cannot be separated from the broader struggle for a fair economy based on shared sacrifice,” said Dorman. “Middle class workers, whether public or private, did not cause Connecticut’s economic problems and should not be asked to bear an unfair burden in their resolution. This is especially true when Wall Street and the super-rich who have profited at our expense during the economic downturn have been asked to sacrifice so little.”

Malloy said that even if the union negotiations break down, a budget will be in place by the deadline mandated by the state constitution.

“Come July 1, we will have a balanced budget in place - one that is balanced honestly, with no gimmicks, and one that begins the process necessary to build a smaller, leaner, more affordable state government,” Malloy said.