Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Sen. Linares: Republican Proposal Brings State Employee Benefits in Line with Private Sector

Senator Art Linares
Senator Linares Says Republican’s Proposal Brings State Employee Benefits in Line with Private Sector
Hartford – On May 31, Senator Art Linares (R-33) was flanked by his Senate Republicans colleagues as they announced a revised two-year state budget proposal that contains no new taxes and proposes creating labor savings through legislative action. 
A proposed deal with the state employee unions would lock the state into specified benefits, including wage increases that range from 9% - 11% over five years, and extends the collective bargaining agreement to 2027. Instead, the Senate Republicans identified alternative labor saving options that also would bring state employee benefits more in line with the private sector.
“I think everybody recognizes that the benefits state employees receive are not sustainable,” Sen. Linares said. “They need to be more in line with what is offered in the private sector.”
Sen. Linares said that significant, structural changes must be made to the medical and pension benefits received by state employees. Changes also are needed to ensure that the state pensions plan remains solvent.
The administration’s proposed labor deal with the state employee unions is estimated to save $1.5 billion over two years, but only $186 million (12%) of those savings are a result of concessions that require approval from state employee unions and the
governor to pass. According to an analysis using data from the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, $1.3 billion of the governor’s proposal could be achieved through statutory changes without locking the state into the SEBAC contract for another five years.
“Connecticut has lost too much for us to continue on the same tax and spend path we have been on for so many years,” Sen. Linares said. “We lost GE and it’s been speculated that Aetna may be next. We also continue to lose people and businesses who just can no longer afford to live here. Now is the time to address the state’s financial situation and create predictable, sustainable budget that will help our economy grow again.
The Republican “Confident Connecticut” budget proposal includes the following:
·        Does not include new taxes
·        Increases Education Cost Sharing funding by $170 million in the first two years and implements a new funding formula
·        Protects all towns and cities from cuts to statutory municipal grants in year one, either holding municipalities harmless or increasing funds
·        Maintains tax exempt status for hospitals to protect them from a new local hospital tax
·        Preserves core government services by restoring funding for social services and programs that benefit people most in need
·        Prioritizes transportation needs and stabilizes funding without tolls
·        Lowers taxes for retirees and helps seniors age in place
·        Enhances funding for state parks and tourism
Full details on the complete Senate Republican “Confident Connecticut” fiscal years 2018/2019 budget proposal available here: http://ctsenaterepublicans.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/SRO_BudgetSummary_May2017.pdf.
Sen. Linares represents the communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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