First Round of State Cuts: Part of A Long Era of Budget Slogging

by Categorized: Public finance Date:

As Malloy’s top deputies faced the media to explain $170 million in state budget cuts Wednesday, a pattern emerged.

Yes, the cuts were hard to make, budget czar Ben Barnes and top advisor Roy Occhiogrosso said as reporters asked about the highlights in the 10-page list.  But no, these reductions are not, in large part, an assault on the services taxpayers have come to expect.

That will happen later. Make no mistake, the $362 million gap for this fiscal year, and the projected shortfall of $1.1 billion for 2013-14, are not a one-shot crisis. They are part of a years-long slog with flareups and periods of calm, much like a patient fighting a  cancer that has spread.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is in a jam here, not because the crisis of the moment is bigger than the one he inherited when he took office two years ago; it isn’t. But he’s already played the best cards — a tax hike and a deal with state employees.

Many of these first cuts fall in the category of management: Spending reductions that the state commissioners — more powerful under Malloy than under the two previous governors — can work around by doing things faster, better.

Of the $170 million, $47 million represents cuts that were going to happen anyway, so-called lapses, money the commissioners were not going to spend. Even with those lapses, Malloy is less than halfway toward solving this year’s problem, and his plan for the next fiscal year is due in a few short weeks.

Next will come program cuts, probably made through the legislature — deeper reductions that reduce what the state does in a more painful way.  Looking ahead, Malloy and lawmakers will have to make policy cuts, as Barnes warned on Tuesday — broad changes in the promises the state makes to its citizens, such as who is entitled to Medicaid and what services are available to homeless people.

That includes the closing of facilities, and not just prisons, Barnes warned Wednesday.

This is not to say the first round of cuts will be painless, rather that the idea is to manage the state’s agencies more efficiently to buffer the pain.

“People will feel the impact in a way that makes none of us happy,” Occhiogrosso said. But he noted, “To look at any one of these cuts in isolation misses the larger point.”

The larger point is that the budget shortfalls — caused by a slower than expected economic recovery and sharp rises in Medicaid costs and pension payments — stretch out for years, averaging just under $1 billion a year through 2016.

Worse still, the state government would have to slice spending by an average of $1.7 billion in each of the next three years just to stay withing the mandatory spending cap, as defined by overall income and economic growth.

And those scary numbers are all based on the personal income tax growing at 7.2 percent a year in each of the coming three years — up from an average of 4.6 percent gains in 2011 through 2013.  Oh, and federal grants would have to leap by 30 percent to $4.9 billion, for the hole to be only as large as projected.

Read Ben Barnes’ presentation here

We’ve heard all this before, including the need for deep reforms.  But this time it seems different for four reasons. First, this isn’t a recession like 1991, 2001 or 2008, so we don’t necessarily have better times to look forward to.

Second, Malloy has already raised taxes by $1.5 billion in the last go-around, and he says he won’t seek new tax hikes. There’s not much room for that trick even if it could work.  The cigarette tax, for example, is starting to show reverse results as smoking declines, and corporations have developed an appetite for more tax credits that they’ll get here, or move elsewhere.

Third, financial engineering such as borrowing and shorting the pension funds will be last resorts only, for the same reasons. The bond rating agencies have spoken clearly. That said, Occhiogrosso would not say borrowing is off the table.

And fourth, the state employee payroll is already down by 3,700, more than 12 percent, since 2008 — and employees are overdue for raises totaling $112 million and $152 million over the next two years. Malloy has already promised no layoffs through 2015, so he shouldn’t look there for more wiggle room.

After Wednesday’s relatively easy round of cuts, there’s nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.

Well, almost nowhere. The state’s Medicaid budget, $5.1 billion this fiscal year, is projected to grow to $6.2 billion in three years as federal health reform kicks in and the number of eligible adults rises sharply.  The good news is that federal Medicaid reimbursement will rise even faster, which is why overall federal grants will surpass the state sales and use tax by 2015.

And in a glimmer of hope noted optimistically by retiring Sen. Edith Prague, who didn’t seek her old seat but has no shortage of energy to finish out her term, there are ways to reverse Medicaid spending trends. Barnes said Tuesday, for example, that the state could hope to persuade federal Medicaid officials to allow Connecticut to keep elderly people out of skilled nursing homes, in less community care — at least in some instances.

“I have no idea how successful we will be,” Barnes said, but the savings “could potentially be hundreds of millions of dollars a year.”

I asked Barnes to compare this crisis with the one in 2011, when he presided over the filling of a $3.5 billion hole.

“I like to think I’m a little smarter today than I was back then,” Barnes said. “It’s a challenge but we have the benefit of a group of commissioners who have had an opportunity to understand…what’s driving their costs.”

They’ll need that skill because even though Democrats are in power, government will remain a sector under siege for a long time.

For example, in response to a question about $19 million in cuts to community programs for people with mental retardation — less than 3 percent of those line items — Barnes said, “a significant portion can be achieved without a cut in services.”

In the next round, that won’t be true.

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51 thoughts on “First Round of State Cuts: Part of A Long Era of Budget Slogging

  1. CT teacher

    Maybe we shouldn’t give the Westport billionaire a few million to move ten miles….we need that money now, so sorry, but I think you will survive without a few measly million. Thanks.

    1. Geoffy

      Don’t worry, you won’t have to pay the rich to stay here – they’ve already left for Florida, thanks to Governor My-Way-or-the-Busway. Oh…and they took their incomes tax payments to the State of CT with them.

      1. alan

        I am surprised that a teacher would complain about millionaires.. every teacher in this state who works 35 yrs will get a pension at 70% of thier last years pay(usually 80k. That means that every teacher(about 40,000 in ct) will get a pension worth $860,857.26 if they live 30 yrs and earn 5%. The Ed Enhancement Act of 86(driven by ONeill and Colonial Realty and K. Sullivan) was the ruination of Conn; it forced the income tax 5 yrs later and we still owe 20 bill in pension.

        1. msavage

          You’re joking, right? You’re comparing millions of dollars to the highest-earning hedge fund manager in the WORLD ($3.2 billion last year, I believe), to the pension that a teacher EARNS and PAYS INTO over 35 years of slaving away in the classroom? Seriously? There are problems with the pension system, obviously, for both teachers and other public employees. But don’t blame the teachers for the problems–blame the idiots who set up the system. And a faulty pension system does NOT negate the fact that million-dollar handouts to the highest-earning hedge fund manager in the country are morally reprehensible and fiscally irresponsible.

          1. alan

            every teacher is now a millionaire according to my calculations and there are 40,000 of them. Also the idiots that set up the system were the largly democratic lawyer-legislators working with teacher union heads to buy votes and legal busines from teachers. I cant belive that i know UConn trained engineers struggling and funding their own retirement while SCSU phys ed and elementary teachers benefit from the 800K pension. No comparison to the academic effort- no comparison to the difficulty of the work effort.

        2. Common Cents

          Alan – I find it so ironic you are putting hedge fund managers on pedastals and then blaming public servants like teachers for the current financial mess EVERY State government, our Federal government, and all world governments are facing right now. Have you ever watched the movie INSIDE JOB? HINT: people like you (and that hedge fund manager) who use fuzzy math to support their contorted (greedy) views ARE THE ROOT CAUSE OF ALL THESE PROBLEMS. For all us dummies out there who used to believe the crap people like you generate, here’s the problems with it. First, you perform calculations in one paragraph and say teachers pensions are worth (have a net present value) of $860K – then in another paragraph you conveniently round that up and say they are “millionares” (in other words you at $140k with no support). It’s rounding like that by financial wizards like yourself that are the root cause of all OUR financial problems! Also, I really love your assumptions – like living 30 years past retirement and adopting a 5% yield rate (discount rate). Who’s getting a 5% rate of return on investments these days – or who can expect to get 5% in the FORSEEABLE FUTURE? Also, your assumptions are based on the premise that if a teacher retires at 55 then that means they will live till 85. Problem with that is the average life span in the US is NOT 85! Also, most teachers these days (unlike in the past) work until at least 62 – NOT 55. So that means you are saying they all live till up to 92! Also, from what little I know a more realistic percentage to use for retirement would be 60% of a teacher’s salary – NOT the 70% you adopt. Proof: Wow, gotta love the fuzzy math that hedge fund managers love to live by!

          1. alan

            nobody is putting hedge fund managers on a pedastal..they will get taxed more and deserve to. The vast majority of people i KNow are degreed, most with various masters, who work in IT, Defense, Insurance etc(making 80-100k working 55 hr/weed) and are getting killed in this economy while people i know in public ed, state, public safety seem to be living as though nothing has changed. In my town some teacher called me a hedge fund guy with a big bonuswhen i work in telecom for a financial company and get paid like my counterpart at UTC, Bic etc. Why pull out the hedge fund argument when statistically it is insignificant

          2. alan

            to be fair someone with an 860K annuity and using a lower rate of assumed interest like 3% the same annuity would be worth $1,097,624 and even using 26 yrs life would be worth $1,001,103. I would also assume a retired teacher would have a paid off house at 250K or more so a million is right.Why would you argue something so easily disputed..but this it why we are in the mess we are in.

  2. John Steel

    A nice concise column – but Mr. Haar backs away from declaring the truth – Connecticut is on the brink of fiscal Armageddon. The predictions of billion dollar deficits are based on wildly optimistic assumptions. 7.2% growth in personal income tax collections? LMAO – Not in a million years. Not with the wealthy moving their income elsewhere. Not with the job base shrinking.

    I have been predicting that Connecticut and most of its municipalities will go bankrupt for a decade. Judgement Day is coming and right soon. The political will does not exist in Connecticut or this nation to take the steps needed to prevent a fiscal meltdown. Gov. Malloy demonstrated that with his deal with employee unions. In two years he will be accepting a seven figure sinecure with one the companies he is handing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

    There is only one option for those fortunate enough to have it – Leave. Move to state where insanity is not a requirement for public office.

    Let’s talk those pensions – which are still using an utterly fantastic assumption of a rate of return on investment of 8% annually.

    Those Federal grants? The Federal government is soon going to face its own day of reckoning. And just as the State is cutting local aid the Feds will slash payments to states.

    1. bummy06

      Good i cannot wait keep voting dem. clowns in office who only want to raise taxes and give free stuff away, this is what you get.

    2. Geoffy

      I WELCOME Gov. Malloy and the Democrats’ liberalism. I hope we get MORE of it. Because each insane proposal they put forth brings us closer to the day – WHICH IS COMING ! – when even the most bleeding-heart residents will be FORCED to say ‘Enough !’ and vote them out !

  3. JM

    I was reading through some of the line items of the budget cuts announced today – there are SO many line items, the average person, like me, has no idea what is being spent…and because so much is being spent on so many different programs, and individuals, it makes it that much more difficult to cut the budget…again, the government is WAY TOO BIG right now, at all levels.

    1. Fred Young

      Agreed. 10 pages of items that I for one never heard of. We can only imagine how large a group manages each of those budgets. Certainly a commissioner of some sort, couple assistant commissioners, a lawyer or 2, possible building rent & utilities, and let us not forget the worker bees. Want to cut the budget? Start where so many have said for years, limit each commissioner to a single assistant & have them justify that position. Cut from the top for a change. Eliminate a $150,000 position & save 4 or 5 worker bees. Then, try multiplication.

  4. Mike

    “Many of these first cuts fall in the category of management: Spending reductions that the state commissioners — more powerful under Malloy than under the two previous governors — can work around by doing things faster, better.” WHAT? faster and better? Foolish!

    “First, this isn’t a recession like 1991, 2001 or 2008, so we don’t necessarily have better times to look forward to.” … the author thought that after 2008 we had better times? I want to hang out with him

  5. Mike

    Let me be the first to Congratulate the Office of the Chief Medical Officer for finding $137 in savings.

  6. p hofmann

    how much of a salary cut did the governor and administrators take. how about eliminating the travel the governor has been making. it certainly won’t balance the budget it sure would show that this is affecting everyone from the top down.

  7. Dan Haar Post author

    Good comments, folks…..some responses here. Good idea for Malloy to take a pay cut, if he asks others to do so. That hasn’t happened yet. As for travel, the China trip cost $20,000, which pays for itself 100 times over if one company comes here….Mike, yes, 2010 and 2011 were a lot better than 2008 and 2009 for tax collection and by every other measure. I said better times, not good times…..I agree about rates of return and millions for Ray Dalio, and yes state government is big, but what should be cut?

    1. grey fox

      @ Dan – There are so many State agencies that overlap/duplicate services, so let’s eliminate them (i.e. Office of Child Advocate, Judicial services (office near the highway and Sports & Science Academy)come to mind. I’m sure there are more, but let the powers that be research them.

      These Commissioner’s, Dept. Heads, Managers, et al need to have their salaries cut as well. If the average citizen has to make a sacrifice,then the “fat cats” should too!

      Cant’ blame folks for leaving this state, if they can live elswhere and keep more of their hard earned dollars. I will be one of them for sure!

  8. bummy06

    Maybe these lazy a** people sitting home getting free stuff all day should get a job. But then the dems will not get their votes remember it was new haven & bridgeport who voted this clown in. We cannot sustain giving away free stuff i see it all day long 5 kids no father no one works and its all FREE its all FREE, 5 people working to support 10. It has to end the country is on the verge of collapse. What happens when you tell the welfares WE ARE BROKE NO MORE

    1. msavage

      bummy06–“Let’s cut laquita’s food stamps”

      First of all, your racist comment is despicable. But I agree with you that our “giveaways” need a serious overhaul. There are fraud and abuse that should be eliminated. But suggesting that we totally eliminate welfare, food stamps, and other forms of assistance that people rely upon borders on sociopathic, in my opinion. Shit happens. People can do all the “right things”–study hard, get a college degree, pay their bills on time–and still end up needing a helping hand. Especially in an economy such as this one. So to suggest that society should just say “you’re on your own” strikes me as morally reprehensible. No, these “handouts” shouldn’t be allowed to become a way of life. We need an overhaul. What the changes should be, I haven’t a clue. But to say that the social safety nets should just stop is not the answer.

      Secondly–there is far too much black and white thinking going on in America today. Too many people saying that EITHER “social handouts” OR “corporate handouts” are the problem. Could it be that BOTH are the problem, along with a whole lot of other things? Yes, let’s overhaul food stamps and welfare. Let’s also eliminate corporate welfare like the several million handed over to Ray Dalio–the highest-earning hedge fund manager raking in more than $3.4 BILLION last year. Let’s eliminate the busway. Let’s eliminate the ability for someone like Malloy to make handouts such as these, claiming that they’re for the “public good,” when they’re really just a means of paying his own way into a primo consultancy or political appointment once CT voters kick him to the curb at the next election. Let’s eliminate six-figure management positions formed for the express purpose of paying back cronies for past or future support. Management positions that are growing at an exponential rate as the workforce–the actual folks in the trenches, doing the heavy lifting–as the workforce is being asked to do more and more for less and less.

      It’s not either or, folks. Get out of your partisan mindsets and think about how things have gone wrong on BOTH sides of the aisle.

      1. grey fox

        @msavage – You hit the nail on the head! Another area to look at when deciding who should qualify for food stamps, and other services are folks on disability automatically get medicaid and Medicare!!! Many folks on disability hardly worked and they should not be getting BOTH.
        I recently retired early (on Social Security) after working since I was 14 years old and the State claimed I wasol entitled to $78in EBT benefits, while a neighbor of mine, who did not work as long as I is on disability and gets $112.

        Whatever formula they use at social services needs another look. Given the recent scandal with DSS hopefully somone with a brain will look into the current system and revamp the process.

      2. old capitalist

        Perhaps, except that voters were given the choice to choose between- either (crony capitalism & the nanny state) or – or (free market capitalism and smaller government) and they have chosen the former, and the current problems you illustate, (increasing welfare, handouts, busway) are the consequences of that choice.

        1. msavage

          Has the ability to examine both sides of an issue–to consider shades of gray instead of seeing everything in black and white–has that been trained out of the American population? Old capitalist–are you incapable of seeing faults in your own world view and/or strengths in the “other?”

      3. bummy06

        Where i would say 99% of minorities get waivers they pay for nothing 95% of whites pay that is just what i see go to the store someone with 5 kids getting a carriage full of food free. where is baby daddy.

  9. Theresa

    My 33 yr old retarded son relies on this “free” stuff buddies. He lives with me because there is no funding for residential services for him even though I’m 66. How would you like to still be parenting well into your retirement years? I WILL continue to vote Dem because Republicans (you?) don’t care about folks like us.

    1. murphygood

      I happen to care about disadvantaged people. (oh…I am out of work but volunteer for folks like your son everyday) Your language in describing your son as “retarded” shows ignorance beyond belief! I feel sorry for him and sad for the democratic party with a pathetic parent like you as a childs flag barer.
      Your poor child should know that there are people like me who do care about them as people who have aspirations. They do not deserve a parent who resents them. They can do better than the “free stuff.” Have you ever heard that to do with is better than to do for??
      They also deserve a government which expects and believes that they can do better.

    2. bummy06

      Yes we do the dems are using you for votes. do you not realize we cannot afford to keep spending like this you cannot have 5 people working to support 10. i have no problem helping any of the elderly, mentally ill people or vets. but not a 20 yr old with 3 kids 3 different fathers on welfare. if the gov did not support them they would not be popping out all of these kids.

  10. Quan

    Let the games begin. Kind of funny that Malloy looked so “in control” when he was bullying the state employee unions. He looks like an impotent buffoon now and the unions look pretty darn smart. Can’t touch them until 2015 and they get their raises. Priceless.

    1. aworker42

      What raises? I can’t remember the last raise we received.

      State employees would have rather kept their vote at NO. Don’t mistake employees for the unions. Why would we vote to give back knowing that Malloy would never stop spending? The Labor Board and Superior Court also ruled against us firing our union. We are forced whether we want them or not to have unions manipulate us and steal our votes. We haven’t even begun to pay the 10 grand a piece into our pensions and Malloy who can’t touch that money has instead cut funding the pensions again.

      The hiring of managers and promotions of managers has never stopped while the ranks of actual workers keeps shrinking. How many managers does one worker need?

      1. bummy06

        i agree i voted no what happened they changed the rules and voted again they only want to line their pockets and we get blamed no raise in 5 yrs

  11. Joe

    These slimy, greasy sleaze balls deserve to squirm, perspire and ferment together. All under the guise of being a part of CT government. Disgusting.

  12. Jim

    Line all of the state employees up and then fire every other one. Thats a start. To do my part, house for sale and moving as far away from this state as I can get.

  13. Patrick

    Why not look for new sources of revenue or ways to boost revenues by adding value. For example lowering the gas tax will bring many of our neighbors in and keep our residents from filling up out of state. I always fill up anytime I am near New Jersey. Lower some of the “sin” taxes and the cash will flow in like it does in New Hampshire. Make Marijuana legal, while raising penalties and fines for DUI, make rules similar to cigaretts and alcohol.

  14. pete

    The problem with the pension system is the COPS, FIREFIGHTERS, PRISON GUARDS and all the other uneducated blue collar UNION workers who are ALLOWED to bloat their pensions by working unlimited OT and it counts toward their pensions. Remember the STATE COP who work in the mental institution in Middletown. He LIED about his OT to bloat his pension but he wasn’t fired. He was allowed to “RETIRE” with a $200k/year pension. What teacher gets this. -I’m not a teacher by the way. Also, look at all the greedy PIG NON-UNION slugs in your local Boards of Ed getting $150/year salaries on average. And you may say what does this have to do with the state budget. PLENTY. Since the said gives hundreds of millions to the cities and towns to pay for the bloat. Why not eliminate these laws:

    1) the longevity pay law
    2) the law which allowed M. Lisa Moody to retire early with a FULL pension
    3) the law that says a town must spend more this year than last year on education
    4) the law that gives our governor a $5K/year pension for each year served – thus a gov gets a $20k/ year life time pension after just four years
    5) the law that gives our corrupt judges a pension of 50% after 10 years.
    6) the law that gives life times medical care if you work for the state for five years

    and I can go on and on and on

  15. ccbeachcomber

    The venting and backbiting is fun – the govenor’s top advisors should get the opportunity to experience the stagnation and terminal unemployment they advised and instigated with a ridiculous tax hike and spending budget based on fantasy. But what about some cost saving suggestions. Anyone? For example, why must each state institute their own healthcare exchange? Why not collaborate with other, small New England states for a regional healthcare exchange. Would their be any economies of scale from such an effort? As mean spirited as it may seem to some, Romney’s observation incumbent Democrats bought the election with entitlement programs, at the cost of taxpayers, is real and should be addressed as well. The gist should not be about a politician’s perceived dilemma regarding their next election. It should be about economic growth and less taxation.

  16. Da Troof

    What a mess. The liberal utopia is nearly up on us. Consider:

    – $16T in federal debt and $1T federal deficits
    – Monetizing the debt with US Bonds (e.g printing $)
    – $200T in unfunded federal entitlement liabilities
    – Obamacare straining already unsustainable entitlements
    – State unions with unsustainable salaries and benefits
    – Federal/State debt service chewing up precious budgets
    – Liberals thinking that increased taxes are the answer

    You get the Government you deserve. Keep voting liberals into office and watch this country and state circle the drain. Forget California- we’ll be Greece soon.

      1. Da Troof

        Please enlighten me as to what I said above that is untrue. Let us all in on the grand liberal plan that pulls this state and this country out of its fiscal crisis. Inquiring minds want to know.

        You liberals are funny. You control nearly the entire media machine with your agenda and yet have a problem with one or two media outlets that offer a different view. Thanks for being so tolerant of the ideas of others.

  17. Dirk Diggler

    I moved to Florida earlier in the year after a lifetime in Connecticut. I have watched while the state has gone down a road of fiscal irresponsibility, yes partly due to republicans in the governor’s office but primarily due to a liberal legislature that keeps spending and spending and spending. It has to come to a point like this when they realize there’s no more other people’s money left to spend. Will they see it this time and change? The cynic in me says no. The realist in me says who cares, I’m in Florida. I will watch while my newly adopted state scoops up the companies that can no longer afford to do business in that state. Whether you bribe them or build a busway to get employees to an empty city isn’t going to help either. Hello Colt… who’s next?

  18. joe867

    The chickens have come home to roost.

    Longevity bonuses, high salaries, overtime, padded pensions, lifetime medical, free cars, and the beat goes on.

  19. Daisy12

    The legislature can do something about the pensions and override union contracts. Its been done in other states – pass a law immediately reducing all pensions by 20% – all government pensions (state and local), freeze them for up to 5 years, and only allow COLA increases, if warranted, on the first $20K and cap the increase permanently at a maximum of 3% in the future.

  20. Kymberly

    I believe the Governor is doing the best job possible. Most state workers are underproductive and spoiled. They have been overpaid and over compensated and using loop holes in their contracts to steal from the State’s fund and increase their income for years.
    Private sector jobs are doing the same job; with more duties at less pay and by far less benefits/pers. Why the State Departments cannot make cuts and bring their salaries and benefits down to a more reasonable level and leave the moeny for the children and seniors in teh budget and cut the college funds for overpaid coaches is beyond me. But making the workers do more should NOT be an issue.

  21. Bill

    This doesn’t make any sense “And fourth, the state employee payroll is already down by 3,700, more than 12 percent, since 2008″. That would mean the total number of state employees was less than 30,820. But there were at least 43,000 union employees at the time of last year’s concessions, plus managers, appointees, and other non-union employees,plus employees of other branches not included in the total, so that number can’t be more than 7% of the total at best. Also, since at least 3,700 employees retired to avoid the concessions last year, and maybe that many left during the ERIP under Rell,plus normal turnover of maybe 1,000 per year in other years, that would mean the state has hired 6,000-8,000 new employees since 2008. There have also been numerous 120-day wonders during that time, I don’t think they are counted as part of the total employees.

    1. Dan Haar Post author

      You are correct, there are many part-time, durational and non-general-fund employees who aren’t counted in that total. And you’re right that many have been hired, but my point is that the payroll is down, so it’s hard — not impossible, hard — to bring it down further without managing differently.

  22. old capitalist

    A growing healthly economy is essential for the state to have the means to offer increased government services and benefits. Deficit spending can only lead to fiscal insolvency & ruin. Greece & San Bernadino are glaring current examples for those who think otherwise.

    Being the second lowest state (above Michigan) in private job creation over the past twenty years is not the path to a growing healthy economy.

    Until the causes for this (self evident to any free market capitalists) are recognized and dealt with by our citizens and political leaders. We in CT will truly be burdened with a long era of budget slogging.

  23. Nonprofit Guy

    With due respect Mr. Haar, you are not addressing a key issue: The Malloy Administration has used and abused the the non-profit community (same as the previous 2 governors) so that they could keep the unionized, state workforce intact. Even if you chose to ignore the many studies that show apple to apple facts that non-government human service workers provide the same or higher level quality work than state employees who earn 40 – 60% more (plus ridiculous benefits like twice a year longevity bonuses), how can you ignore the complete lack of ‘shared sacrifice’? Today, while using the non-profit community again to cover up his pandering to the unions, he did slash the ‘safety net’, AGAIN. Your story does not describe at all either the human impact of the recessions (which are actually 10% because they are annual numbers, not 5% of the remainder of the year), how about all the non-profit, non-government employees that will lose their jobs because of this cut? Not a mention!

  24. Lars Arden

    Let’s begin with the General Assembly setting an example by cutting its salaries and benefits, then move to the next level; political appointees and mamagers, and do the same but also take away their state owned vehicles as well. They can use vehicles from the motor pool but they should be required to drive from home to office and back in their own vehicles. Next; take a long, honest look at Public Works contracts and awards. Who is getting preferential treatment because they are big contributors to party coffers? (Am I stepping on some toes here? Tough!) A few years ago the State began some vocational training sites (leased properties and purchased eqipment). The State already has 16 functional Technical Schools, an equal number of Regional Community Colleges and two University Systems. What? No space for vocational training (day or night) in those facilities? How many Liberal Arts majors are unemployed? Do we need to make more? Jobs call for practical skills and the employers can tell you what kinds of skilled people they need. Its a win-win situation: Cutting the costs of program operations by consolidation and building skills to put people to work, (hint: working people pay taxes, buy goods and services and the businesses they buy from also pay taxes and buy goods and services). Say, Governor, your “busway” idea really stinks! Un-nice payback! It fooled no one. People like you and those who voted for you will learn a hard lesson. There is a bottom to the well! I think that this time around the unions will find that they have shot themselves in the foot much to the grief of their members (but not the highly paid union bosses).

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