The Bristol Blog features news and information about Bristol, Connecticut.
January 12, 2009
Hamzy calls on lawmakers to overturn union contract award
Press release from state Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes northwestern Bristol:
Rep. Hamzy: Arbitration Award on State Employee Union Contract Should be Part of Budget NegotiationsState Budget Deficit will Worsen if Arbitration Award Not Modified
A recent arbitration award on a state employee union contract that carries an $87 million price tag should be considered in the context of state budget negotiations rather than being allowed to automatically become law within the next 30 days without a vote on the pact by the state legislature, state Representative William A. Hamzy said today.
The proposal, which was unveiled today at a capitol news conference by state House and Senate Republican leaders, was offered as an alternative to the usual practice followed by both legislative chambers of allowing arbitration awards on state employee union contracts to take effect withoutup or down votes by the Connecticut General Assembly.
The arbitration award was based on an estimated state surplus that was put together last May – before deteriorating economic conditions in Connecticut resulted in a projected state deficit for the current fiscal year that now amounts to $343 million. The projected deficit for the next two years is now estimated at about $6 billion. No state employee union contract has been rejected since 1996 but Republicans said their compromise proposal is essential to resolving the state’s budget crisis.
“Democratic and Republican legislators have been saying for weeks that the budget crisis cannot be resolved without sacrifice by everyone in the state,” said Representative Hamzy, R-78th District, a Deputy House Republican Leader who attended the news conference. “While I am personally sympathetic to the men and women who work for the state Department of Corrections and under ordinary circumstances would not consider an arbitration award providing for an 8 percent salary increase over three years excessive, I also must point out that we are not living in ordinary times.”
“Our state is in the grip of a major recession,” Representative Hamzy said. “Businesses are cutting back or closing, thousands of jobs have been lost and the state has experienced a massive decline in revenues that have resulted in a budget deficit that is still growing. We have been talking for weeks about the need for tough decisions in the face of multi-billion deficit. This arbitration award has far-reaching implications for 11 other state employee union contracts that expire by June 30th. If allowed to become law without a vote by the state legislature, it will set a precedent for those contracts that could result in significant increases in state spending – and tax increases – that the people of Connecticut simply cannot afford at a time when we are all struggling to make ends meet.”
"Governor Rell has asked the legislature to put off action on the contract award while her office talks with other state employee unions about how to resolve the budget crisis in ways that ensure the pain is shared by everyone and no one is penalized unfairly. The fairest and most responsible way to resolve it is to consider this award in the overall context of our deepening recession and our increasing deficits. If this contract, and others like it become law, our fiscal crisis will worsen and we won’t resolve it without layoffs, reductions in services, tax increases or a combination of all three,” Representative Hamzy said.
The state legislature’s Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the contract in a public hearing within the next few weeks but is not required to act on it. The arbitration award then goes to the House and Senate.
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