Malloy Orders Layoffs Today; No Deal Reached With Unions

Leo Canty, vice president of the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut, speaks at the capitol about layoffs. (PATRICK RAYCRAFT)

Overall, the options include $1.67 billion in cuts and layoffs to fill a hole of $1 billion, including $455 million that would be saved from the 4,742 layoffs of both unionized and non-union workers. The cutbacks would include nearly 4,200 layoffs in the executive branch agencies, 470 in the judicial branch, and 80 in the legislative branch.

The layoffs represent about 10 percent of the state's 46,290 full-time workers who are paid with state funds. The totals do not include part-time workers or those paid with federal funds.

Under Malloy's plan, the layoffs would occur at more than 40 different departments and agencies, ranging from the state prisons to the University of Connecticut.

While the agencies would have an average cutback of 10 percent of the workforce, the numbers vary widely from agency to agency. At the Department of Revenue Services, where the state is trying to collect as much in taxes as possible, only 1.6 percent of the workforce would be laid off. At the Department of Developmental Services, which is one of the largest agencies with 3,617 employees, only 1.5 percent would be laid off.

The highest number of layoffs would come at the State Department of Education, which would lose 1,413 of its 1,706 employees - or 82.8 percent. Those include a large number of teachers at the vocational-technical schools. The plans also include eliminating all 80 positions at the Hartford-based Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in order to save more than $6.3 million in the fiscal year that starts in July.

The other agencies with large layoffs would be 471 jobs in higher education, including the Connecticut State University system, 319 at the Department of Corrections, 285 at the University of Connecticut, 277 at the state transportation department, and 188 at the newly formed Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

In the governor's office, three of the authorized 27 positions would be eliminated. In addition, 12 of the 148 positions in the governor's budget office - a separate entity - would be eliminated.

While the corrections department has a relatively large number with 319 layoffs, it represents about 5 percent of the department's 6,493 employees.

At the Department of Children and Families, a long-troubled agency that has often been in the headlines with problems overseeing troubled children, 3.2 percent of the agency's 3,284 workers would be laid off.

The additional spending options that Malloy will be facing include eliminating both Governor's Horse Guards in Avon and Newtown, reducing millions of dollars in scholarships for students in private colleges in Connecticut like Quinnipiac University, and closing the workers' compensation district offices in Middletown, Norwich, New Haven and Stamford.

The options also include eliminating 25 positions by attrition in the Department of Public Safety to save $2 million per year, as well as eliminating police and fire training services to save more than $8 million over two years. All funding for the Office of the Child Advocate, which serves as a watchdog over the Department of Children and Families, would be eliminated in order to save about $1.4 million over two years. The New Britain branch of the motor vehicles department would be closed, and staffing at the New Britain-based Department of Public Utility Control would drop by 27 percent.

The state would save more than $300,000 over two years in operating and insurance costs if officials sell the state police helicopter.

Malloy's budget director, Ben Barnes, wrote last week in a one-page letter to Malloy that he was hoping to avoid cuts.

"These options are unattractive policy choices, and I offer them with a sense of reluctance and even regret,'' Barnes wrote. "Clearly, implementing these reductions would be a worst-case outcome - painful for our citizens, our employees, and those who rely on state services. It is my fervent hope that an agreement will be reached in short order, obviating the need for either personnel reductions or additional programmatic cuts.''

Malloy, who avoids using the word "unions'' and instead refers to the workers as "our employee group,'' has been criticized harshly by Republicans for ignoring them during the budget talks. The Republicans said Malloy had raised their hopes when he was first sworn in back in January, but now they say they were systematically cut out of the budget negotiations over a period of weeks.

A longtime Capitol insider said there is a sense of unease in state government as the new fiscal year approaches.

"Some agencies are spending money like they're going out of business before July 1,'' the insider said.

The Hartford Courant's Jon Lender reports:

Roy Occhiogrosso, senior adviser to Malloy, told reporters Tuesday afternoon that layoff notices had begun being handed to state employees by administrators at various agencies, but he didn't know how many.

"On Thursday, we will give you a detailed breakdown on paper of everyone who has received a notice up until the close of business on Wednesday," Occhiogrosso said.