Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of three editorials, by Red Jahncke and UWA Region 9 President Michael Holmes, debating the state budget and the issue of state employee compensation.
The series follows the classic format of point, counterpoint and brief rebuttal. Jahncke provides initial remarks. Holmes is given 3 days to respond. Jahncke is then was given 1 day for a brief rebuttal.
Unfortunately, Mr. Holmes has ignored the concerns expressed in my column.
Instead of addressing the fact that state employees earn 40 percent more than Connecticut’s private sector workers, as documented both by internal state studies and by third-party economists, he refers to private sector workers as “working class brothers and sisters” of state employees.
In actuality, the gulf between state employees and real working-class workers in Connecticut’s private sector is enormously greater because the studies use average figures for all private sector workers which include the “ultrawealthy” that Holmes attacks.
The fact is that state employee compensation is crowding out services to Connecticut’s working class. Mr. Holmes should address this concern.
In the 2017 the State Employees Bargaining Coalition (SEBAC) agreement, state employees were awarded major benefits, including a four-year extension of their years-long no-layoff guarantee and two pay raises of 3.5 percent and resumption of so-called “step increases” which amount to annual 2 percent wage increases. So when the pandemic hit, state employees suffered no harm.
Moreover, as my column discusses, the fiscal controls, aka “caps,” instituted for very good reasons in the 2017 bipartisan budget have served nevertheless to send enormous amounts of revenue into the Budget Reserve Fund (BRF), aka the rainy day fund, and, then, into the state employees’ pension fund, not to finance state services. Mr. Holmes should address this situation. He doesn’t.
In short, Mr. Holmes indulges in a class struggle diatribe, instead of addressing the on-going budget crisis in Connecticut and how to address it.