Why Dannel Can’t Add

Freshly elected Governor of Connecticut Dannel Malloy has a problem with basic math skills.  I, for one, believe that he has the ability to overcome this problem, but I am often wrong.  In this recent article about how Malloy is still “the man” for organized labor he makes the following bizzare statement:

Hundreds of union leaders gave Gov. Dannel Malloy standing ovations, but there’s no sign they’ll give him what he really wants:  $2 billion.

The money would come in concessions from the state workers’ unions’ contract with the state government, a contract they don’t have to open because it doesn’t expire til 2017.

“But I am asking the people of Connecticut to pay $1.5 billion more in revenue,” Malloy told them, explaining why he also wants the state workers to part with what amounts to $40,000 each over the next two years.

The reporter took it upon himself to do the math.  I don’t believe that Dannel Malloy explicitly stated those numbers in his speech.  If he did, he may have encountered more murmurs than applause.

To put a finer point on it, a state of 3.5 million people is being asked to contribute $1.5 billion in new taxes over two years, while 45,000 state employees are being asked for $2 billion.  An estimate of the number of tax paying individuals in CT might be around 1 million, so that figures to $1,500 each over two years.  45,000 of those people are state employees, who, apparently, are being asked to throw an additional $40,000 each in over that same two years to “help out”.

You may or may not know, I am one of those employees of the State of Connecticut.  I deal with data for a living.  I have a thing for numbers.  I’ve been working in environmental science for almost 25 years, more than 17 of that for the State of Connecticut.  If Governor Malloy thinks that this math adds up, he wouldn’t last a day in a real job.  If I presented this as an “equitable” solution to an environmental problem I would be in some serious hot water.  It would also call my skill and credibility into question.  Holding the Governor to a lesser standard is not the answer to our state’s problems.  I am absolutely sure of that.

Governor Malloy should be forthright about how he sees this as a equitable solution, and show his math.  Could he be so out of touch with the value of the US dollar that he believes that $750 per year and $20,750 per year are the same thing?  Will he be rescinding his tax increases in 24 months? I don’t think so.  On the State Employee front we may have to wait for the “other shoe” to drop before we know.  If I was betting, I would lay the whole stack on Malloy calculating that re-opening the 1997 collective bargaining agreement (signed by John “fountain of bad ideas” Rowland) is his “other shoe”, and layoff threats will be his shoehorn.  This is where the article gets foggy: The reporter refers to the collective bargaining agreement as Malloy’s target.  It would be hard to imagine a new agreement being struck that guts wages and benefits only in the first two years of a new long-term deal, so the Governor is either looking for a new and much deeper 2-year concession package, or something huge got left out of this article, or the reporter knows something that Malloy is leaving out of all of his official communication on this topic.

State employees in Connecticut are no strangers to concessions in a time of budgetary difficulty.  In 2009 State employees agreed to aprox. $750 million is concessions to the State of Connecticut in a 2-year concessions package negotiated by SEBAC (State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition).  That was a restructuring of some insurance co-pays, furlough days, and other “give backs”.  That agreement was reached under the underwhelming gaze of mysteriously popular placeholder and ribbon cutting professional Jodi Rell.  The Connecticut Legislature pissed that money away before the ink was dry.  Well, Dan Malloy is no Jodi Rell!  Or at least, that is his tune.  We’ll see.

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