Defending Red Jahncke: Public Sector Employees And Their Preferential Treatment

Sean Goldrick got a lot wrong in his letter “Taxpayers Are Getting a Bargain with Public Employee Compensation,” written in response to Red Jahncke’s recent column entitled “Lamont’s Budget: A Game of ‘Caps,’ Except for The Privileged Few.

I’d start with a subject that Red Jahncke did not even address: private sector employment. Mr Goldrick says that, under Governors Malloy and Lamont, “private sector employment hit new all-time highs.” True, it hit 1,467,000 in December 2018, topping the previous high of 1,461,700 on March 2008 – yes, Malloy created a stunning 5,300 new jobs over an entire decade! There has been no growth under Lamont, even before the pandemic.

Mr Goldrick attacked a statement that Red Jahncke did make: “state employees have enjoyed a decade-long no- layoff guarantee, while hundreds of thousands of private sector workers have lost jobs.” Mr Goldrick did not dispute this fact. Instead, he offered a misleading comeback: “the state workforce contracted 14% during the Malloy administration.” The contraction was obviously a function of attrition. There’s a world of difference between leaving your job on your own initiative (attrition) and being laid off.

There are some other problems with Mr Goldrick’s claim. First, he leaves out the actual headcount numbers behind the claimed 14% decline, namely a decline from 29,556 in 2010 to 25,830 employees in 2017.

Here’s why. According to the 2018 Valuation Report of the State Employees Retirement System (page 3) by actuaries Cavanaugh Macdonald, the overall unionized state workforce was 47,778 on June 30, 2011, just a few months after Malloy first took office and increased to 49,153 on June 30, 2018, six months before Malloy’s retirement.

How does Mr Goldrick turn a headcount increase into a workforce reduction? And why are the Cavanaugh Macdonald numbers about twice as high?

Where are the approximately 23,000 employees that the actuaries counted that Malloy and Mr Goldrick did not? It turns out that Mr Goldrick omitted important qualifiers to the claim that Malloy himself was usually careful to note whenever he made his workforce reduction claim.

Here’s the relevant sentence from page 72 of The Malloy- Wyman Record, the 283-page paean to Malloy’s glory that the former governor had state staffers prepare on the tax payers dime, as he was leaving office: “At the end of calendar year 2017, there were 25,830 permanent full-time employees being paid from appropriated funds in the executive branch (excluding higher education).” [emphasis added]

Malloy never explained how many of the “missing” 23,000 were non-permanent, how many were part-time, how many were paid from non-appropriated funds or how many were employed in higher education. But, at least, he acknowledged them – albeit without owning up to their significant numbers.

In contrast, Mr Goldrick hid the ball completely.

As Red Jahncke outlined in his column, it is state employees who are getting the bargain. Taxpayers are being fleeced. Mr Goldrick has distorted and hidden the facts, either by error or by intent.

Dan Quigley
Greenwich, CT

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