HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — In unveiling his proposed changes to the two-year state budget enacted last year, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy would see the state’s workforce reduced by more than 1,000 employees.
While addressing a joint session of the General Assembly on the opening day of the new legislative session, the governor said Wednesday the jobs would be eliminated through attrition and “other means.”
The Democrat said he doesn’t take it lightly that some state jobs will be eliminated. He promised, however, that he will continue to work with state employees to make sure the reductions are “done fairly and with great care.”
Malloy unveiled a proposed $19.8 billion budget that pares $569 million in spending, which he blamed on lower-than-expected revenues and an “inability” over past decades to make the changes and investments needed to move the state’s economy forward.
The governor is also calling for changes in how unfunded pension liabilities are financed. He said the state’s outstanding obligations are “shaking the confidence of the business community” and looming over the next generation of state taxpayers.
The move comes amid projections of a $500 million shortfall in the 2016-17 state budget. Larger deficits are predicted in the following two years.
In his address, Malloy urged lawmakers to work together in the common interest of the state, rather than just their districts.
“While every good idea should and will be heard, anyone who expects their ideas to be made a reality must be ready to support a final budget bill. That’s the price of leadership and it is the price of being part of the solution,” Malloy said.
But legislators on both sides of the aisle are already voicing concerns about across-the-board cuts to state agencies and giving agency heads more latitude in deciding where to reduce spending.
Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, a Democrat, said lawmakers are concerned Malloy’s plan might weaken the legislature’s prerogative to make certain budgetary decisions. He said a 1969 law helped to ensure fiscal parity between the legislative and executive branches.
Meanwhile, Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano called Malloy’s proposal “reckless” for reducing discretionary agency accounts by 5.75 percent. He said it’s the legislature’s responsibility to examine the policy implications of spending reductions.
Malloy told lawmakers he has “no desire to diminish the General Assembly’s right to set policy.”
Fasano also said the problem with this budget, as in the past, is that the borrowing continues without check, WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau reported.
“The State of Connecticut is in a fiscal-death spiral,” Fasano said. “We are going down at an accelerated speed. This governor and this Democratic majority gave us the two largest tax increases in Connecticut’s history, and they said with these increases we’ll be out of the hole.”
Fasano said the painful budget decisions ahead will have a dramatic effect on everybody in the state.
Republican State Sen. Scott Frantz said he hopes the governor honors his pledge not to raise taxes, but with a forecast of a $2 billion deficit next year the senator wonders how can it be done.
“If we delay balancing our budget in an honest fashion and we don’t get our cost structure under control seriously bad things will be happening in the future to this state,” Frantz said.
Malloy pledged to hold town meetings across Connecticut to hear from residents.
The legislative session will adjourn May 4.
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