The people of the State of Connecticut, and specifically employees of the State of Connecticut, should find out what came of the closed-door negotiations (discussions) of the past month. The discussions really were closed-door. There was noting in the way of credible leakage, and any real information came directly from the SEBAC member unions in the form of press-release type communications.
A few thoughts that have occurred to me while observing the chaos that this process has created among the rank/file:
1) There never was $1billion per year over the next 2 years to be extracted from State services. I have already mentioned the simple arithmetic of $20k+ per employee… But even if the savings were to come in the form of consolidation and elimination it takes a lot more than just eliminating an agency’s budget. In a case where the State wanted to pull out of a current effort, like, certain health care services, they would need to clear the decks of the grant commitments they have entered into with the Federal side (for example). That isn’t like flipping a switch.
2) Most State programs that people howl about are actually heavily dependent on Federal funds. And while that is taxes too, the issue at hand is the State of Connecticut’s General Fund. The array of State agencies falls into a few bins: huge agencies which have huge Federal funding (ie. DOT); Mid-Sized agencies with moderate Federal support (ie. DEP, Education); agencies covering core needs like taxes, revenue, public safety, prisons… that have varying amounts of Federal support, but are not on the table. Bigger tie-in to Federal funds = less savings to the General Fund and less options to cease effort at State level because of Federal commitments.
3) Governor Malloy would be wise to take his self-serving bullshit about how the organized labor vote made the election closer than it should have been, and never let it see the light of day again. People voted for Malloy, not the other guy, because they wanted Malloy. Now that he is in office he should refrain from using his former opponent as a boogeyman. Those votes got him a win in a close contest. He can take that vote for granted all he wants, and try to make it seem that he was the only alternative worth voting for. Nobody is as scared of the alternative (Governor Foley) as Malloy wants to make it seem. Many in Labor are scared that Malloy the candidate seems to have little relation to Malloy the Governor, and we may have been, oh… how to put this delicately, lied to. What organized labor has to fear will be clear enough in the next few days. If Malloy thinks that the silence of organized labor is a sign of their compliance, he should wait until he sees the reaction to his announcement this week.
What we have been working up to here in Connecticut is the political version of the 2011 Japan Quake. The negotiations have been building strain on both sides, and when that strain is released I believe we will see a tsunami-like reaction across all sectors of the landscape. Everybody has been very good at playing by the rules and not talking out of class about the negotiations. The political tectonics have continued without regard to that show of respect.
Stay tuned to your local political seismograph…