- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Given the state’s continuing budget problems, it cannot afford a labor contract negotiated with non-teachers at the University of Connecticut, said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who urged legislators on Wednesday to reject the agreement.

Malloy acknowledged the five-year deal was negotiated in good faith last year. But he said the state now faces a “new economic reality” and must realign state spending and services and significantly reduce its workforce.

Malloy has said at least 1,000 job cuts could be expected given a $220 million to $266 million deficit projected in the current $20 billion budget. Meanwhile, there’s a $900 million deficit projected in the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

“I believe this is a contract Connecticut cannot afford,” the Democratic governor said. “It would set a precedent that would necessitate the elimination of even more jobs.”

Malloy released a memo on Wednesday showing the administration’s Office of Policy and Management and the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis now estimate the contract would cost $93.9 million over five years. UConn analysists had estimated $55.9 million.

Both Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, agreed the state cannot afford the contract, which recently cleared the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee and has been awaiting action by the full legislature.

“We are afraid that, if approved, the contract will lead to massive layoffs and painful tuition increases, forcing talented Connecticut students out of state,” they wrote in a joint statement.

Kathleen Sanner, president of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association, differed with the state’s analysis of the contract. She said the agreement takes into consideration the fact UConn receives a grant from the state, which is combined with tuition fees and other revenues for the school’s budget.

“Only 30 percent of the budget comes from the block grant. To suggest that this contract will increase costs to taxpayers is simply wrong,” said Sanner, who said the union is “disappointed that the collective bargaining process is not being honored by Malloy.

The governor’s call to reject the contract comes as his administration continues to negotiate wage and working condition contracts with most of the state employee bargaining units. The memo from Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes notes how the agreement for the UConn non-teachers “could establish a pattern that would cost more than $1 billion over five years if applied across state employees outside of higher education.”

Earlier this week, Malloy canceled expected pay raises for at least 1,950 non-union state employee managers.

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