Camillo: The State Employee Brgaining Agent Coalition Agreement Ties State’s Hands for a Decade

Submitted by State Rep Fred Camillo, House District 151

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

That old saying, while over used, was never more true than it is now when looking at the recent State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) agreement vote in the Connecticut legislature.

The bill, which passed on a party line vote, with all Republicans voting in opposition, and just one House Democrat joining us, ties state government’s hands for a decade.

That is not a typo. A decade!

The House and Senate Democratic legislators claim that the $1.5 billion in union concessions was too good of a deal to pass up, and that you have to give up things in negotiations in order to receive sought after items.

While that is generally true, things like requiring state workers to pay an additional 2% toward their pensions (which are still capped at 4% for most state employees), and awarding 3.5% raises after a four year wage freeze are hardly worth a mere four year no-layoff promise.

If this was just two years, this would have been an agreement worthy of serious debate, but ten years?

To add insult to injury, longevity payments will remain in effect as well as the traditional practice of loading on overtime hours in the last few years of employment so that a pension will reflect those high numbers as opposed to the years that were more reflective of a regular work schedule.

Coming on the heels of two huge tax increases, and one more in the works, the lessons of the recent past don’t seem to be registering with many members of the majority party. The devastating fact of people and businesses leaving our great state is now joined by the unacceptable reality that our neediest residents will continue to suffer as a result of funding cuts by the governor and a lack of a Democratic budget, now well over a month late.

Is the situation now as hopeless as many fear due to this union agreement and another planned tax increase? No, I don’t believe that all hope is lost, but a turnaround any time soon will surely be harder to accomplish now with our budget toolbox minus an import device. Still, I will continue to fight for a redirection for our beloved Nutmeg State with whatever means we have left. A new, determined, and pro-business governor along with the end of a disastrous one party rule era in the legislature will be a start. Common sense, welcoming policies must accompany
that change of leadership at the state Capitol because, Lords knows, it has been absent for a long time.

Despite the union deal setback for our taxpayers, there are still many positive reforms left that can be implemented. That, however, will take a willingness to reach across the aisle and place the will of the people before party allegiance, even if that means putting one’s political career at risk. We were not elected to make the easy decisions; we were chosen to make the difficult ones.

It’s time to lead.

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