Partisan Sparring over CT Union Deal

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) and union officials have reached a comprehensive deal that is projected to save the state $1.6 billion over the next two fiscal years. One of the agreement's provisions is the imposition of a $35 copayment on state employees for non-emergency visits to the emergency room, notable if only because the requirement was possibly spurred by the case of a current state worker who visited a hospital emergency room 150 times in a single year. The deal's main cost savings, however, would come from a two-year wage freeze that would save a projected $450 million. 
 
Republicans ripped the deal last week, calling it a giveaway to the unions and a "smoke and mirrors" agreement based on questionable cost-savings assumptions. Some took particular exception to a no-layoff clause included in the deal. 
 
"Unfortunately, the more we see the details, the less there is to like," said Senate Republican leader John McKinney. "A four-year, no-layoff pledge, which no one in the private sector has, leaves us four years from now, right where we started. Unemployment in the private sector is 9.1 percent. Unemployment in government is zero percent." 
 
But the governor's senior adviser and chief spokesman, Roy Occhiogrosso, shot back: "This governor has done more to stabilize the state's finances in four months on the job than the past two governors did in 15 years on the job," adding, "They should be applauding what he is doing, but their party label prevents them from doing it. They're Republicans.... They're frustrated that there's a Democratic governor who is succeeding where two Republicans failed." 
 
The agreement still has to be ratified by the state's 15 affected unions and the General Assembly, which the Democrats control. If ratified, the deal's provisions would take effect September 2nd. (HARTFORD COURANT) 

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