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Connecticut spends more on state employee overtime this fiscal year

Jessica Hill

A report just released found that Connecticut spent $206 million on state employee overtime through the third quarter of this fiscal year. That’s 11% more than it spent over the same period last year.

The state spends a higher percentage of its budget on overtime than any of its neighbors, said Eric Gjede, vice president of public policy at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. “We are without question the highest of the entire New England region,” he said.

Five agencies accounted for 92% of the state's overtime expenditures, according to the report by the state legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis. They are the departments of Correction, Developmental Services, Emergency Services and Public Protection, and Children and Families.

An excessive number of vacancies in those agencies is to blame, said Senator Cathy Osten, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee. “If there are not enough regular hourly employees to fill those positions, then those hourly employees are going to stay for overtime,” she said.

Lawmakers have appropriated money to fill those vacancies, Osten said. “By actually funding these positions, we’ve given them the resources to hire positions. So we are pushing them to hire positions.”

Osten and Rep. Toni Walker, the House co-chair of the committee, have scheduled regular meetings with the state agency heads to make sure that those vacancies are filled.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.