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It’s Time for Elected Officials and Union Management to Take Responsibility for Financial Abuses

To the Editor:

Bonuses to be paid to public sector employees at up to $3,500 each will cost the state $150 million in this instance alone.  Reports state these bonuses will then be added to the pay base,  creating a higher base line for COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments) for 30 or more years in retirement.  The governor has known of the “graying of the workforce” for his entire time in office.  His lack of vision and leadership has led to this one-sided “negotiation” to pay bonuses which are his bid for re-election with our tax dollars.

Connecticut has grossly mismanaged pay and benefits for public sector employees for several decades, always putting the tax-paying public on the hook.  Unfortunately, elected officials and the union management have worked together to ignore pension obligations with outright underfunding and the use of overly optimistic investment return projections.  Corporate and individual tax-payers unable or unwilling to pay over-sized tax burdens have relocated, creating a downward trend of economic activity in Connecticut.  

It is time for all elected officials and the Union management to take responsibility for the current and historical abuses of fiscal responsibility.  It is NOT time for the tax-paying public to have to shoulder the burden of  paying what many experts have stated are disproportionately generous retirement pay and health benefits.    The proposed bonuses, back-pay and step increases will NOT minimize the unfunded pension liabilities, but will actually increase the unfunded mandates of pension obligations.  

Connecticut is awash in newly printed cash, which our federal legislators have plucked from the futures of our children and grandchildren.  This cash is lighting the fires of inflation, and it WILL run dry in less than two years in Connecticut – a fact that the governor has acknowledged.   Connecticut has failed to regain the same level of jobs that existed pre-2008 recession.  The state will continue to languish economically, making future retirement and health care benefits to state employees a larger issue.  State employees understand these facts, and in many cases, just hope to “hold on” before the system inevitably breaks down. 

Without leadership from the governor and assembly, Connecticut will continue to hobble along economically in what was once the most prosperous state in the Union.  The fact that the Governor is supporting these proposed bonuses show that rather than look for the long-term good of the state, he is willing to try to yet again pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate in his bid for re-election.   Show some leadership.  Connecticut needs to come into the modern world of pay and benefits for state employees by implementing 401K / 403b style retirement programs similar to the tax paying public.  

Vote NO to the proposed SEBAC bonus and pay increases.

Robert Ham
Cheshire, CT 

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