The Administration has announced that it will begin formally notifying union leaders of contingency plans for layoffs. The administration has indicated the action is being taken now because of notice requirements in various collective bargaining agreements. Still more public service layoffs would just make things worse for Connecticut.
Layoffs and service cuts threaten public health and safety, our children’s education, and our state’s future. They will hurt our economy and lead to even more fiscal crises. Connecticut needs a balanced approach to resolve our budget deficit that isn’t entirely dependent on damaging state services to meet that goal.
Connecticut state employees are hardworking public servants who pay their taxes and want the same things as everyone else; to support themselves and their families and to know that their tax dollars are being used for good things. Over the past eight years, Connecticut state employees have given back over $1 billion annually through their 2009 and 2011 concession agreements, in addition to the millions of additional savings state employees provided that have streamlined state government and improved state services, even while the state workforce is now the smallest it’s been since 1960. These are hard sacrifices.
A new report from the Center for Public Policy and Research indicates that Connecticut is a robust place to do business, and should not fall prey to the temptation of continued austerity and disinvestment that have hurt the economy. Contrary to the wailing of wealthy and corporate special interests, we need a balanced, fair-minded approach to generating revenues that will keep our communities vibrant by protecting the public services and structures that are critical to our economic health.
Connecticut does not exist in isolation. In our neighboring states, New York just implemented free state college tuition for middle-class residents and will raise the minimum wage to $15 over the next few years. And Massachusetts, which invested heavily in education, successfully wooed General Electric away from Connecticut last year despite their higher taxes.
While we continue to explore ways that state workers can provide help in the state’s fiscal challenges, Connecticut remains the wealthiest state in the richest country on the planet. Yet it is apparent from the ongoing revenue shortfalls and our struggling middle class that our current tax structure is inadequate in ways our neighboring states and others like Minnesota –which raised taxes on the wealthy–have overcome.
Connecticut needs to make smart decisions for our state’s future. We ask our elected leaders to stand up for working and middle-class families and for a budget that works for everyone.
Click here to read the full Center for Public Policy & Research report