Malloy declines to rule out more state employee layoffs

- FILE - Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy delivers his State of the State address, February 3, 2016 (WTNH)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Yesterday, Gov. Dannel Malloy wouldn’t rule out tax hikes next year. Today, he’s not ruling out more state employee layoffs.

Most all of the numbers crunchers at the State Capitol now seem to agree that without major adjustments in state spending, the red ink next year measures $1.3-billion.

The Governor attended the annual House of Bread hunger benefit banquet Wednesday, armed with new state budget numbers that appear to bolster his contention that a large part of next year’s projected $ 1.3 billion in red ink, is not his fault. In fact, the numbers show that close to $1-billion in state expenses are for obligations made by the state over several decades.

The biggest part of the increase in state expenses involves thousands of public school teachers.

As you may know, teachers are not covered by Social Security. State government provides a pension for teachers and that obligation grows next year by approximately $300-million. In addition to that cost, state employee pension obligations and retiree health insurance is going up close to $200-million by one estimate. Payments on state borrowing is about $245-million.

Once again Wednesday, the Governor made the argument that the bulk of these cost increases are not his fault.

“We created a whole new class of employees when I became Governor in 2011. We don’t have a pension problem for that class of employees. Everything that we have that’s driving our expenditures on pensions are for state employees before,” Malloy said.

Between state employee layoffs and other eliminations, the Governor has cut 2,800 state jobs. On Wednesday, he would not rule out more layoffs.

“There are a lot of hard choices to make. You guys have already reported [that] I asked all of my departments to give me a plan to downsize by 10 percent,” the Governor added.

“I think everything needs to be on the table. I certainly don’t want to do that unless it’s necessary. But if you remember last year, we had 13 different structural changes on the table and not one of them was implemented,” said House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby.)  

With a much greater number of Republicans in the state House and Senate after last week’s election, the chances for some of their budget ideas being implemented next year will be much greater.

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