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Conn. Republicans Push For Labor Concessions

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Office of State Senator Craig Miner
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State Senator Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, speaks on the floor of the State Senate in Hartford in January.

Some Republican state lawmakers in Connecticut are pushing a package of bills that would cut back state employee health and pension benefits. They say the benefits are too generous.

One of the Republicans supporting the bills is State Senator Craig Miner of Litchfield. Speaking at a meeting of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, Miner argued that Connecticut should end its state employee defined benefit retirement plan and replace it with a 401(k) program.

“I can tell you that many of my constituents don’t have a $32,000-a-year social security package, pensions package, what they are asking me to do is to look at all of our options in trying to come up with an affordable Connecticut.”

Democrats are skeptical. Tom Swan, head of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, says state workers already gave massive concessions in 2011.  

“My sense is it’s not helpful to try to bludgeon people to say we don’t care what you do, we are going to try to take away your pensions. That the next people that are coming to do your job, we want you to have high deductible savings accounts. I don’t know how that leads to more productive negotiations.”

Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s office is currently negotiating with a bargaining coalition of state employee unions called SEBAC. The governor’s office is seeking possible health and pension benefit concessions. The savings are needed because Malloy’s fiscal year 2018 budget plan includes $700 million in labor cuts.

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.