Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office is planning for $800 million in pay raises for state employees in the 2018–19 state budget, a significantly larger raise compared to budgets from previous years.
The raises would fall into the Reserve for Salary Adjustments section in the governor’s budget and constitute a planned projection for wage increases when contracts are renewed this year. In the past, the RSA has been a significantly smaller number — this year’s is the largest in recent history. The average RSA for Malloy’s past three budget proposals is $196.2 million, less than one-fourth of this year’s projected raise.
The $800 million figure is inflated because the contracts of all state unions except for one have already expired, and the amount includes an unusual number of raises for multiple unions.
“This is the first time in history that because of a prior agreement, they are all expiring at the same time,” said state Rep. Michael Winkler, D-Vernon.
According to Winkler, unions usually negotiate with the state individually on matters such as wages, work hours and bonuses. An umbrella organization, the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition, negotiates on behalf of all unions for retirement and health benefits. But in 2011, as a shortcut to negotiating with each union individually, the state informally negotiated with SEBAC for wages, which unions typically would do individually.
SEBAC did not respond to requests for comment.
Given that contracts have already expired and the unions are working under previous agreements, the state will have to pay the raises agreed upon not only for the coming contract years, but also as back pay for 2017.
As of right now, the exact wage increases remain uncertain and will only be determined in the negotiations between the unions and the state government. There is no date set for when the negotiations might finish, and they can be resolved either before or after Malloy’s full budget is approved by the state Legislature.
“The RSA increase in fiscal year 2018 versus fiscal year 2017 reflects a budgeting assumption that any future wage increases would be roughly consistent with average increases in prior contracts and would be retroactive to fiscal year 2017,” said Chris McClure, public information officer for the Office of Policy and Management.
Wages under the 2011 contracts have been increasing by 3 percent annually since 2014.
Winkler said he does not believe that wages will continue to grow by that amount in the coming years, and as a result, the RSA should be lower.
“I think that an arbitrator looking at the state’s deficit is unlikely to award pay increases that high,” Winkler said.
Malloy has served as governor of Connecticut since 2011.