Posted on July 26, 2017 by Michael Downes
New Canaan’s GOP delegation of State Representatives Tom O’Dea (R-125) and Fred Wilms (R-142) voiced their dismay at Monday’s House approval of the state employees’ union concession package due to its insufficient savings and structural changes and its extension of the current union contract until 2027.
The concession package, negotiated by Governor Malloy and union leaders, was ratified by state employees earlier this month and now is tentatively scheduled to go before the Senate on July 31. Analysts have predicted the plan could save approximately $1.5 billion over the next two years by increasing pension contributions, creating a hybrid/defined contribution plan for future state employees, increasing healthcare co-payments, and realizing other labor savings. The deal also restricts the state’s ability to lay off workers until 2021.
House Republicans, including O’Dea and Wilms, highlighted some of the structural change in the concession package as “steps in the right direction” that they supported, but denied the notion that the deal solved Connecticut’s fiscal crisis and indicated it could lead to funding cuts and tax increases in the future.
“This agreement was rushed on us by the majority before a sufficient level of independent analysis of the cost to taxpayers was done, all the while we remain without a budget for the state of Connecticut,” said Rep. O’Dea. “Mostly, this agreement gives more than it takes, guaranteeing against layoffs, and preserving benefits that remain among the most opulent in the country – far out of line with what is typical of the private sector. It fails to go far enough to solve our state budget deficit, and I suspect we will be right where we were again in very short order.”
“Where we are today is a result of choices that were made by our predecessors, and we have to live with the choice they made, just like our successors will have to live with the choices we make now,” said Rep. Wilms. “I am disappointed with the choice the majority party made yesterday, because it was not the right choice for Connecticut. This SEBAC agreement does not get the job done and locks in costs for ten more years. Our successors will have to pay for this choice.”
No action was taken Monday on passing a two-year budget for Connecticut. House Republicans’ attempts to call their fully-vetted, no tax-increase budget proposal for a vote were rebuffed by majority Democrats. Their first attempt took place in the form of a proposed rules change, the second in the form of an amendment to the union agreement.
State Rep. Tom O’Dea represents the 125th General Assembly district which includes New Canaan and Wilton. He is Deputy Republican Leader At-Large and serves on the legislature’s Transportation Committee as well as the Judiciary, Legislative Management and Regulation Review Committees.
State Representative Fred Wilms represents the 142nd General Assembly district communities of Norwalk and New Canaan. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Planning and Development Committee, and the Transportation Committee.