First selectman Jayme Stevenson shared the following message with Darien's State Senators Bob Duff and Carlo Leone regarding Governor Dannel Malloy's agreement with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition; it has been reprinted with her permission.

Good Morning Bob and Carlo,

I’m writing to urge you to vote NO on the Governor’s negotiated SEBAC agreement today.

To begin on a positive note… I appreciate that the proposed agreement represents a shift in a more positive direction to bring state employee benefits more in line with public sector employees in other states. In the midst of Connecticut’s fiscal crisis, it’s simply bad policy to promise state workers no layoffs for 5 years and to lock in expensive benefits until 2027. As a local leader of a well-managed ‘Aaa’ rated town, we take the opposite strategy. Shorten the terms of the deals and make no long term promises so that we can stay fiscally nimble in the face of changing economics.

Your administration has spoken positively about your efforts to cut spending by downsizing government. This agreement disallows future administrations, both Democrat and Republican, from continuing to right-size government as we face future deficits which are assured without further modifications to this agreement, continued cuts in state government spending and positive changes in state revenues.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis Emergency Certification states that the annual savings achieved by this agreement are FY17 $0, FY18 $371.8 million, FY19 $328.6 million, FY20 $328.9 million and FY21 $153.6. These savings, according to OFA are all inclusive of the proposed changes in wages, healthcare, retiree healthcare and retirement plans. The OFA detail differs significantly from the information you are distributing. See below.

The wages negotiated in this agreement are nothing more than a wage deferral. Between the year-3 lump sum payments and 3.5% increases in years 4 and 5, state employees are again receiving promises that far outweigh the wage opportunities in the private sector and public employees across the country. Many local municipalities have long done away with “longevity” pay, I encourage the state to do the same. In addition, overtime should be excluded entirely from pension calculations, not dropped to 60% as proposed. Friday’s Hartford Courant article on the excessive overtime pay in the Department of Developmental Services underscores the need to remove overtime entirely from pension calculations.

http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-overtime-over-the-top-at-state-agency-for-developmentally-disabled-20150914-story.html

When aggregated, the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS), Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and state retiree OPEB obligations have created a tsunami of fixed costs that is overwhelming the state’s ability to provide necessary and appropriate government services. Taxpayers deserve to see a comprehensive fiscal analysis of the state’s finances through 2032 to see if this proposed SEBAC agreement will help or hinder the path to fiscal stability. CT Mirror budget expert, Keith Phaneuf, speaking to a group of non-profits last week, believes Connecticut will continue to cycle through unbalanced budgets and deficit mitigation crises without a better union deal.

To be clear, I do not oppose collective bargaining per se and understand how it works…you need to give something to get something. However, this agreement will form the basis for the state’s next 5 biennium budgets and without a better deal, significant tax increases at the state level, local level or both will certainly be necessary over the coming years. Connecticut and our hard working taxpayers simply cannot afford this deal.

Respectfully,

Jayme Stevenson