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Connecticut Corrections Officers First On Budget Chopping Block

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The Connecticut prison system is preparing to fire upwards of 147 employees in the first public-sector layoffs to overhaul the state economy, according to a letter released Thursday.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has worked since Feb. 3 to rein in public-sector employees to fix the local economy. The plan involved cutting expensive public sector benefits and reducing the size of some state agencies. Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple signaled in a letter to agency officials they could be the first to lose their jobs.

“After working diligently to come up with cost saving measures, we were able to impact the number of layoffs significantly, but in the end they were not altogether avoidable,” Semple wrote. “Today, it is my duty to inform you that our agency’s savings plan has been approved. I regret to inform you that 147 Department of Correction employees are to be laid off.”

The letter was made public by AFSCME Local 391 which represents many of the corrections employees. The department was originally expected to cut 600 positions. Corrections officials losing their jobs represent only a small portion of the potential layoffs. Malloy plans to terminate over a thousand public sector jobs through both attrition and layoffs.

The eventual goal is to save the state $570 million in the coming fiscal year. Republican and Democratic state lawmakers praised the plan, but state unions have denounced it. The state has failed to rebound from the most recent recession because of unusually slow economic growth and now faces a $930 million deficit. The budget cuts are aimed at finally pushing the state out of fiscal difficulty.

Earlier in the week lawmakers proposed a budget that failed to close the spending gap by $360 million, reports CT News Junkie. Nevertheless Malloy plans to introduce a budget next week aimed at completely closing the spending gap by 2017.

Malloy is also attempting to cutback on costly public sector benefits. He reached out to the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) last month to request it open the 2011 public sector contract for health and pension benefits. SEBAC responded March 17 it didn’t have the authority to reopen the contract without a union contract vote.

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Tags : connecticut
Connor D. Wolf