Sen. McKinney calls on Governor to demand special audit

June 21, 2011

“Gaming the system needs to stop.”

Hartford, CT – Senator Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) is calling on Governor Dannel Malloy [PDF] to issue an executive order demanding a state audit and review of all agency overtime.

This written request comes after a Hartford Courant article describing – once again the apparent abuse of state taxpayer dollars to pad state workers’ pensions.

“Governor Malloy made promises to reform government – though his actions haven’t lived up to his words. This audit is another chance for the administration to do the right thing,” said Senator McKinney.

The subject of the news paper article is a state police lieutenant who worked at the state mental hospital in Middletown. The news paper account says that after an internal investigation officials found the lieutenant had put in for 528 overtime hours that he didn’t work. A $32,000 cost to the taxpayers.

Senator McKinney believes the administration has to clamp down and stop policies that encourage public employees to game the system at taxpayer expense.

Senator McKinney says, “Cases such as this undermine the public trust in state government and cast all state employees in a bad light.”

According to the Hartford Courant report the lieutenant’s base pay was $84,759 a year, and normally that salary does not generate a pension of $73,800. But the officer collected heavy overtime pay for years, and received $175,496 in regular pay and overtime combined during 2010 – more than any of the other officers in the 58-member department at Connecticut Valley Hospital, state records show.

“The officer has been fired and his case is under review, but he still is collecting a lifetime pension of $73,800. That is just wrong,” added Senator McKinney.

In the letter written to the Governor, the Republican leader asks the administration to immediately issue an Executive Order requiring all state agencies to (1) audit overtime where an employee’s claimed overtime exceeds 10% of their normal working hours, and (2) adopt policies and procedures to ensure that all claims for overtime are documented, reviewed and verified by an employee’s superior.

Senator McKinney also asks for a complete investigation by the state police of this matter to determine whether the overtime hours used to calculate the lieutenant’s pension were, in fact, legitimate.

“I would hope and expect that the Chief State’s Attorneys Office will pursue criminal charges in this matter and that the Attorney General will seek to recover the full amount of any overtime that was illegitimately paid to Lt. Quinones. If Lt. Quinones is found criminally liable for his false claims, I would also expect the Attorney General to seek to revoke or reduce his public pension pursuant to 1-110 et. seq. of the Connecticut General Statutes,” wrote Senator McKinney.

Republicans called for an end to this practice of using over time in pension calculations at the beginning of this session and submitted proposed bills that would have stopped this abuse. Those bills were not taken up by the majority party.

We also encouraged the Governor to address these issues while he was negotiating the collective bargaining agreement. In February, the Governor said in his budget address there needs to be shared sacrifice – including state workers, “Because their current wage, health care, and pension benefit levels are simply not sustainable…..Other changes, like freezing longevity payments… could save the state millions more.”

Unfortunately, ending these practices were not part of the concession deal.