This is a must-read: “Get the Senate GOP budget on the books.”

July 12, 2017

Today’s Waterbury Republican-American Editorial about our CT Senate Republican budget plan is a must-read.  Please share it with taxpayers and let me know what you think at  Eric.Berthel@cga.ct.gov .   Thank you!

(Waterbury Republican-American Editorial)

Deal with state unions

 An opportunity for reformists

 Days after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced he won’t seek re-election in 2018, we argued he is well-positioned to stabilize Connecticut’s finances.

“Since Gov. Malloy no longer has anything to gain by coddling union leaders like the AFL-CIO’s Lori J. Pelletier and (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’) Sal Luciano, he is free to make the policy changes Connecticut has needed for years,” we asserted April 15.

The governor soon may have a big chance to make such changes.

Unionized state employees are voting on a “concessions” deal the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) negotiated with Gov. Malloy. It must be backed by “eight of the 15 unions and 50 percent of the voting members,” according to the Republican-American.

Voting is expected to be finished by July 17. If the deal receives the requisite support, it will go to the legislature for approval.

There is no guarantee it would receive a legislative thumbs-up.

Several conservative Democrats – Sen. Joan V. Hartley of the 15th District among them – have reservations about the deal.

Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Leonard A. Fasano, of North Haven, told the Connecticut Mirror July 6 that the ranks of anti-deal Democrats may increase.

If Sen. Fasano’s prediction comes to pass, the deal probably won’t survive.

The Senate is split 18-18 between Democrats and Republicans. House Democrats have a four-vote working majority.

A rejection is warranted.

The deal has several troubling provisions, chiefly one that would extend from 2022 through 2027 the master agreement protecting workers’ retirement and health benefits. It defies logic to burden budgets that haven’t been crafted.

That would be no way to bring stability to Connecticut’s finances in the wake of General Electric Co.’s and Aetna Inc.’s removal of their respective headquarters from the state.

If the union deal is voted down, Capitol policymakers will have an opportunity to make serious reforms.

“The Senate GOP (budget) plan would legislate changes to worker benefits and collective bargaining rules without granting” the union deal’s most harmful provisions, according to the July 6 Mirror report. “This would allow the state to close a major deficit over this fiscal year and next while mitigating cuts to local aid and employing minimal tax hikes.”

Gov. Malloy has expressed opposition to the statutory-changes option – despite floating one in 2011.

However, in recent days, he has emphasized the need for structural changes and avoiding tax increases.

The governor would be wise to partner with Sen. Fasano to get the Senate Republican budget on the books.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, an AFSCME employee whose caucus touts a budget marked by “increases in sales and hotel taxes,” according to the Mirror, would be under enormous pressure.

In the ultimate irony, the Senate Republican plan is the best vehicle by which Democratic Gov. Malloy can reach his goals.

Since the governor no longer has to curry favor with Big Public Labor, he will have no excuses not to do the right thing for all of Connecticut.