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Government-Labor Alliance Left us on the Hook for Billions of Dollars

To the Editor:

In recent weeks, Connecticut’s public sector union leaders have been fussing about future staff reductions and wage hikes. In the wake of undue hardship and risk, Connecticut needs to focus on “investing in people; investing in services,” David Glidden, head of the CSEA-SEIU Local 2001, said recently.

Like toddlers in their high chairs gumming their cookie, the unions know if they cry for more, government leaders will cater to their demands to shush them up. No doubt Lamont will do the same

This past year, as thousands across the state saw their jobs and their businesses evaporate, state workers received every one of their scheduled pay hikes. In 2010, the average state worker earned $31,000 more than his private sector counterpart, according to the state’s own website. The Connecticut’s lopsided wage and benefit growth since then has only exacerbated the grossly inequitable discrepancy between public and private compensation.

Connecticut’s government-labor alliance has left us taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in retirement benefits, most of them promised but not funded. Meanwhile, private pensions have disappeared and inflation promises to decimate retirement savings.

But, hey, the unions got theirs, so all is right with the world.

Lamont recently boasted that his administration paid $1.6 billion toward the state’s $40 billion pension liability. Let’s get something straight. Neither the governor, nor his cabinet, nor  the legislature ponied up this money. I did. Every reader of this letter did. And so did our children. In fact, Connecticut residents from now until the Second Coming will pay this bill. And since benefits are pegged to salaries, every pay hike enriches the package and multiplies the liability.

This measly 4 percent pay down is being financed with surplus funds derived from a two-pronged windfall. Hartford is awash in cash thanks to tax receipts on highly volatile capital gains. Sustaining the cashflow requires a rooted, wealthy population invested in an ever-rising stock market. Wobbly markets and ebbing Covid relocations don’t inspire confidence.  

Nor does Washington’s recent fiscal bender – the Progressives’ response to a virus we were never going to conquer.  Federal debt now exceeds the size of the total U.S. economy as measured by GDP – a misalignment not seen since 1945. A reckoning is in the offing. Debt must be repaid and control of the purse will change hands. Both truths suggest Connecticut’s recent good fortune is ephemeral.

Ingenuity, innovation, and competition have been the hallmarks of the U.S. economy, and Connecticut’s. True leaders will orchestrate a restructuring of Connecticut’s economy to one that welcomes the risk taker, not with manipulative, short-term incentives, but  with a minimally regulated, low-cost environment that fosters long-term, stable private-sector growth. This will require a leader unafraid to make hard choices; not one who’ll appease the child by throwing another cookie on the tray.

Faith Ham
Cheshire, CT

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