What have my computer and the Connecticut State budget got in common? Both crashed this week. Fixing the computer was relatively easy it only took an honest man and $180.00. The Connecticut budget mess is more complex because crafting of the original budget was based on smoke and mirrors rather than honest politicians with honest numbers.
We all know the state union members have voted to reject a revision to their contracts that would have reduced cost to the state and guaranteed employment for the members. A guaranteed job in this economy is worth something; just ask the thousands of Connecticut taxpayers currently unemployed.
The environment and culture of union labor for government workers in Connecticut has developed over years. It is a culture based not on the reality of economics but on expectations and political maneuvering. What were once considered jobs that maybe paid a little less but guaranteed employment have become jobs with competitive wages, expected raises without merit, a premium healthcare insurance program and lucrative retirement benefits.
The vote results should not have been a big surprise, the union voters have been weaned on the rhetoric of union leaders, feed by politicians more interested in preserving a coalition of voting support than serving the public interest and now the workers have a level of unrealistic expectations. Their expectations are unsustainable in the long-term for the taxpayers, over the years they have been led to believe what they have is not enough. That has become the culture of the Connecticut State workers and it is the fault of leadership.
The economic view of state union members has become more a world based on fantasy than economic reality. The largest state union is AFSCME and the leaders strongly recommended a vote of approval that would have guaranteed job security for four years and health benefits for ten years. It was the correct recommendation; it was the right thing to do. The vote would have provided wage increases of three percent in the third, fourth and fifth years of the contract. The rank and file members rejected the settlement and now some may face the prospects of no job at all.
The leaders of AFSCME and the Democratic leadership in the General Assembly have only themselves to blame for the vote of rejection and budget mess they have created. It is the result of years of political pandering, political posturing and political pay-offs that have fostered the culture and environment found in this vote. It is time for a reality check and reform in the way we do business with Connecticut State employees. It is not the fault of the rank and file worker this contract revision was turned down it is the fault of leadership on both sides of the negotiating table that created the culture.
Leadership in this State has failed to provide a realistic atmosphere and culture for rank and file government workers. Our leaders have failed to make the tough decisions along the way choosing instead to take an easy road to re-election. The time for the nonsense to stop is now. It is time for political leaders to step forward with courage and conviction to do what is right for all of Connecticut and not for the special interest group of union labor leaders.
This is not the time to once again pass the buck and kick the problem back to the cities and towns by reducing aid. It is time for the leadership in the General Assembly to solve the budget mess with reduced spending and realistic expectations.