By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is leaving vacant nearly 2,300 executive branch jobs _ about 5 percent of the state’s work force _ as part of a plan to streamline state government, a figure that includes hundreds of jobs that opened up after a larger-than-expected number of state workers took retirement.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press indicate the Democratic governor has decided, however, to refill 990 jobs, roughly two-thirds of the number requested by his agency commissioners. The jobs to be filled are mostly for front-line staff such as highway maintenance workers, medical staff and group home workers.
Benjamin Barnes, the governor’s budget secretary, said the Malloy administration is saving an additional $55 million, on top of the $65 million that was agreed upon in the recent labor savings deal reached with unionized state employees that kept approximately 1,000 executive branch positions vacant. In return for ratifying the agreement, which also included concessions such as wage freezes and pension changes, unionized state employees received a promise of no layoffs for four years.
“There were critics who said that would limit our flexibility. Clearly we do have flexibility. Ten percent of the workforce under the governor’s control is vacant and we’re letting 3 percent of that get refilled in order to meet critical needs,” Barnes told the AP. “But clearly, we have room to control costs and to reduce the state workforce, even in the context of the agreement, which I think is very encouraging.”
In March 2009, nearly 31,000 people were working in executive branch jobs. Last month, that was down to less than 27,000. That figure does not include employees who work in higher education or in Judicial Branch positions. Barnes said the total state workforce will now be about 42,000, including seasonal employees. He said it had been a little below 45,000.
Some of the 990 jobs that will be refilled have already been posted. That figure also includes the 56 rookie state troopers who were laid off late last summer after the Connecticut State Police Union failed to fully ratify the labor savings deal and did not receive the no-layoff protection. It also includes some positions that had been previously paid for with federal grant funding, Barnes said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)