GOP: Labor Savings Can Be AccomplishedJuly 28, 2017
AG George Jepsen delievered an opinion that a Senate GOP leader says OKs his proposal to make "statutory changes" to state labor agreements.
Republican and Democrat leaders in Connecticut sparred on Thursday over an opinion from Attorney General (AG) George Jepsen that would appear to affirm the constitutionality of a Republican approach to changing state labor agreements.
The state labor agreements have become a key question as Connecticut faces down a two-year, $5 billion budget deficit. The agreement Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.) signed with state unions gets Connecticut around one-third (roughly $1.5 billion) of the way there, then requiring deep spending cuts and/or big tax hikes.
Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) said on Thursday that AG Jepsen’s opinion affirms the legislature can make “statutory changes” to existing labor agreements, without union approval:
The opinion from the Attorney General confirms what we have been saying all along – that as long as lawmakers do not impair existing contracts, we can make statutory changes to achieve labor savings. This means there’s not even a shadow of a doubt that the Senate Republican budget can be implemented because we do not touch any current contracts.
Fasano’s plan would save $1.9 billion over the next two fiscal years, about 40 percent of the anticipated deficit and more than Malloy’s agreement with unions.
Malloy released a short and barbed statement on Jepsen’s opinion, and Fasano’s plan, on Thursday:
Despite the political rhetoric from those wishing to defeat the SEBAC agreement and undermine collective bargaining, the facts are the facts. And the fact is, the legal opinion offered by the Attorney General Jepsen stresses that substantial constitutional questions remain with respect to certain Republican proposals to alter portions of state employee collective bargaining agreements.
The legislature now appears to face a choice:
- Approve Malloy’s deal, which saves $1.5 billion over two years, but also extends state employees’ generous benefits until 2027
- Approve the GOP budget, which saves $1.9 billion over two years and enables leaders to negotiate benefits with state employee unions in 2022, when the current deal is supposed to expire
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