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Rejecting the Failure to Deliver Shared Prosperity

The separate, but similar, proposals released Tuesday by legislative Republicans include particularly egregious examples of fiscal policies that prioritize the interests of Wall Street over the middle class. Significantly, they demanded considerably more in labor cost savings from state employees and their families — more than $2.2 billion over the biennium — than the governor previously suggested. 
“Demanding even more from middle class families shows just how out of touch these politicians are,” said University of Connecticut (UConn) student health services department nurse Kathleen Sanner, RN-BC. “They don’t even realize how state employees are already producing significant taxpayer cost savings. Worse, they don’t understand the long-term harm of taking dollars directly out of local economies,” added Sanner, president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated UConn Professional Employees Association (UCPEA).
Click here for our previous report on calls for state employee labor savings.
The governor’s revised plan retains many proposals from his February budget speech to the General Assembly, including one that shifts the state’s obligation for teachers’ retirement security costs to municipalities. The scheme has for months been opposed by local elected leaders and school officials, as well as public education advocates and union members.
“Saddling local communities with unexpected costs is both penny-wise and pound-foolish,” said Patti Fusco, AFT Connecticut’s jurisdictional vice president for PreK-12 educators. “Whatever short-term savings it may produce for the state budget will be lost by the cuts to local services like public health and safety. Then there’s the teacher shortage it threatens to cause for towns across Connecticut,” added Fusco, a veteran educator and member of our West Haven Federation of Teachers.
Click here for reporting on collaborative efforts to oppose the unfair cost shift.
Hospitals and the state’s healthcare delivery system face an uncertain future under all three proposals, though legislative Democrats proposed rolling-backing the governor’s previous Medicaid funding cuts. His latest package retains an earlier plan to slash funds designed to help independent acute care facilities — most of which is actually reimbursed by the federal government.
“Small community hospitals are already struggling in this tough climate,” said Lisa D’Abrosca, RN, AFT Connecticut’s jurisdictional vice president for nurses and health professionals. “Pulling critical supports out from under them will only drive their leaders to merge with or be taken-over by larger health networks. That’s not always what’s in the best interests of our patients or communities,” added D’Abrosca, a caregiver at L+M Hospital and president of our L&M Registered Nurses union.
Click here for reporting on the governor’s initial proposals to cut resources for hospitals.
The plans released this week reinforce the need for a growing economy that works for all working people, not just CEOs and hedge fund managers. The reality is that a second consecutive year of deep, painful cuts will mean larger class sizes, fewer first responders and a continued deterioration of vital health services.
The right response to all three proposals is to demand a “fair share” state budget, not more of the same failed austerity policies that further threaten Connecticut’s quality of life.
Click here to send a message to your legislators demanding they take a more balanced approach.

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