Fasano Response to Secretary Barnes’ Criticism of Senate Republican Labor Savings Plan

July 19, 2017

HartfordSenate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement in response to Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes’ criticism of the Senate Republican alternative state employee concessions plan which could be achieved legislatively.

“It’s clear that the governor’s administration is repeating union talking points to protect their negotiated deal. These are self-serving statements meant to detract from the reality that Senate Republicans have a viable alternative that will put state employee benefits more in line with the benefits union employees outside of state government receive today. I understand that the administration is extraordinarily nervous that Senate Republicans have come up with a legal, realistic, measured plan which saves more money than the governor’s deal which took over a year to negotiate. I understand the purpose of Secretary Barnes’ statement. Unfortunately, the statement is inaccurate and self-serving,” said Fasano. Details below.

Governor’s Claim: The Senate Republican requires that employees in 2022 be converted to a pension system that is worth less than the contributions required of employees.

Reality: The Senate Republican proposal is based on the standards in other states. Our proposal would increase state employee pension contributions to 6 percent which is still below the national average of 6.6 percent.

Governor’s Claim: It depends on reducing pensions that were already earned and slamming retirees into a new health plan, subjecting the state to class-action litigation not unlike SEBAC v. Rowland which resulted in more than $100 million in costs to taxpayers.

Reality: It is completely inaccurate to compare any part of the Senate Republican proposal to SEBAC v. Rowland. In that case, the state was wrong in its actions because it tried to change benefits for union-employees only. The Senate Republican proposal would implement changes that apply equally to union and non-union state employees, so there is no basis to compare this plan to what happened under Gov. Rowland. In addition, the Medicare changes referenced above are the same changes that are included in the governor’s deal that state employee unions supported and which the SEBAC coalition described to their members as not changing benefits, but simply changing the vehicle by which plan benefits would be delivered.

Governor’s Claim: The plan does nothing to fix the cost of current state employee benefits, deferring all real benefit changes until 5 years in the future.

Reality: The only reason we cannot implement certain changes right away is because the governor extended the current state employee health and pension benefits until 2022. The Senate Republican plan honors the current SEBAC agreement by not enacting changes to state employee health and pension benefits until the agreement expires. Our proposal still manages to achieve significant savings above the governor’s deal in both the short term and long term, saving $1.9 billion over the next two years. It does all this while respecting and upholding the contracts in place today.

Governor’s Claim: Indeed, only a SEBAC agreement can deliver more than $350 million in employee and retiree healthcare savings right now when we need them.

Reality: The Senate Republican labor savings proposal can legally achieve $836.9 million in labor savings in fiscal year 2018 and $1.08 billion in labor savings in fiscal year 2019. This is $340 million more in savings than the SEBAC negotiated union deal. In addition, the Senate Republican savings plan rolls out to significantly more savings than the governor’s deal totaling billions in future years.