Letter: Five Reasons Ct Dems Should Not Have Raised State Employee Pay
By Ryan Fazio
National debates dominate the news cycle these days, but important things continue to happen on the state level.
On July 1st, Connecticut state government employees received a 5.5% combined pay increase, the second such increase in two years, adding up to $353 million on the backs of taxpayers. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of those taxpayers have lost their jobs, while the state faces large budget deficits into the future.
This is clearly not right, but it’s also not a surprise. Many candidates for state office have spoken out against the raises since the recession began in March, including me. Yet, Democrats in the state government, including my opponent running for state Senate, either said nothing or did nothing to stop them. Nothing.
There are at least five reasons why these raises should have been prevented—and why we need a change in our state government in November.
First, if the governor and state government had the power to shut down tens of thousands of businesses by emergency powers this year, they also clearly have the power to delay or stop a pay increase for their own employees! Several other Democratic governors, including in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, acted; ours did not. Plus, the Supreme Court of the US has ruled repeatedly that states retain their right to make alterations to collective bargaining agreements in order to protect the general welfare.
Second, hundreds of thousands of workers in our state have lost their jobs and more have lost income. They should not now have to pay higher taxes for bureaucrats in Hartford to get a massive pay increase. This crisis requires shared sacrifice.
Third, even before this recession began, regular middle-class families have not gotten a pay increase in three decades in Connecticut but have seen their taxes increase by billions seven separate times including last year. SEBAC, a coalition of state employee unions, complains that they’ve only gotten a few pay raises in the last ten years; taxpayers haven’t gotten one in the last thirty.
Fourth, our state is facing budget deficits around $2 billion annually into the future. Our state and local governments face a combined unfunded liability and debt burden of nearly $125 billion, which equals around $90,000 for every household. State revenue may fall as much as 33 percent due to the economic fallout from COVID. On what planet can we afford raises to state government employees?
Fifth, we need to reasonably control the state’s finances and government employee pay now in order to avoid massive layoffs and haircuts in the future. Less experienced state employees and citizens who rely on our social services will suffer if we do not act.
The politicians in our state government are clearly failing the middle class. Despite promising fiscal moderation around election time, Democrats like my opponent continue to spend liberally and protect the special interests in office.
But I promise you, there is hope. Our state has all the attributes necessary to succeed except good government. If we change that, and send state legislators to Hartford who will reduce the tax burden on the middle class, excessive spending, and look out for regular working people, the best days for our state can still be ahead of it.
Ryan Fazio is a candidate for the 36th State Senate District, covering Greenwich, and part of Stamford and New Canaan