We Make Connecticut Happen

Our View: Unions did their part in state fiscal crisis


Norwich Bulletin Editorial Page
July 22, 2017

At their announcement to accept concessions in wages and health and pension benefits, several union members held signs that said, “We did our part.”

They did. Fifteen state employees unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) voted, overwhelmingly, to freeze their wages for three years and increase contributions for health, pensions and other items, including needing to take four furlough days each.

Their reward: They are immune from layoffs over the next four years. In this state financial climate, the workers made a good – and fair – deal.

The state’s reward: Connecticut is in dire straits, and the $1.57 billion savings over two years helps immensely.

The reward for both: More people stay employed, pay their mortgages, pay taxes, shop locally and feel secure.

“State unions held up their end of the bargain — negotiating in good faith, leading their members through some tough changes, and ultimately rallying their members,” Malloy said in a statement. “Now, it’s up to the legislature to do their part and approve this agreement. We will continue to be available to meet with any legislator who may have questions about the value and significance of this agreement.”

Here’s where it gets murky. Republicans say they are ready to fight the givebacks. They say it’s not enough to close the deficit. The unions, meanwhile, say now it’s time for the wealthy and large businesses to pay more too, something Malloy and many legislators strongly oppose. There is a worry that the wealthy are already fleeing the state because of high taxes, and businesses have long held a hand out for reasons (sometimes millions of them) to stay here.

But the union members have a point. Why are they being asked to give back? To put money -- -$80 million recently – into the pockets of hedge fund managers? It makes sense to close the “carried interest” loophole, which allows, according to a story in the Connecticut Mirror, hedge fund managers to pay much lower tax rates on their personal earnings than the top marginal rate within the federal income tax system.

Connecticut is in a position in which shared sacrifice is the only way to get out of its financial doldrums. The unions have made their concessions. Legislators, it’s your turn.

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