State Budget Finally Passes, With Bargaining Impacts

Oct. 26, 2017 -- The Connecticut General Assembly has reached agreement on a two-year, $41.3 billion budget. The budget passed both chambers by veto proof margins of 33-3 in the State Senate and 126-23 in the House of Representatives.

The full budget (SB 1502) and the fiscal note are both now available.

This compromise budget contains no progressive taxation or revenue measures. However, we stopped many of the most onerous anti-labor, anti-public employee provisions that wound up in the punitive Republican budget that passed with the help of conservative Democrats in both chambers -- and was vetoed by Gov. Malloy earlier this month.

Our most significant accomplishment was to protect collective bargaining for state and municipal/board of education employees. In particular, we stopped the corporate conservative-led effort, fueled by anti-union groups like the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the Yankee Institute, to strip state employee union members of the right to bargain over health care and pension benefits after the current SEBAC agreement expires in 2027. 

We also lobbied against unfair measures to hurt municipal employee bargaining, stopping proposals to cripple binding arbitration, prevent overtime pay from being excluded in pension calculations, impose arbitrary negotiation timelines and to allow municipalities to misrepresent their true "ability to pay" from an arbitrator's consideration.

However, the budget that passed the legislature impacts other aspects of the collective bargaining process. In particular, future SEBAC agreements on pension/healthcare will be limited to four years, and future union contract agreements and awards will require an affirmative vote from the legislature in order to be implemented.

The legislation also calls for the establishment of a Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) process allowing the state to impose financial oversight of financially distressed municipalities, potentially abrogating collective bargaining agreements.

Thanks to all our members who made calls, sent emails, wrote letters and lobbied their legislators in support of a fair budget and against the vicious, politically motivated attacks on union workers.