CT state employee retirements top 4,330 since Jan 1


More than 4,330 state employees have retired since Jan. 1 or filed their written intention to do so, according to data released Wednesday by Comptroller Natalie Braswell’s office.

That’s nearly double the number of retirements the state government has faced each year between 2019 and 2021, as the spring surge in workforce departures continues.

The latest total includes 3,084 employees who have left the public service since the start of the new year and another 1,251 who intend to leave by July 1. That last number could change over the next month.

“Filling these vacancies is not only paramount to our ability to protect the essential public services we all rely on, but also to ensure a strong economy that bridges the historical, racial and socio-economic divide present in Connecticut,” said Drew Stoner, spokesperson for the Coalition of Government Employees Bargaining Agents.

The state government has been preparing for years for a surge in retirements this spring.

Part of the problem stems from an aging workforce. But the driving factor involves tighter limits on state workers’ retirement benefits, which take effect in July. These changes were negotiated as part of a 2017 package of union concessions that also included wage freezes and other changes to benefits in exchange for temporary worker protection from layoffs.

The bargaining coalition, which represents the majority of unionized state workers, has been pushing to reverse a shrinking state workforce that began more than a decade ago.

According to data obtained by the CT Mirror from the Office of State Policy and Management in late April, all executive branch agencies – excluding public colleges and universities – had collectively filled 25,700 of the 30,080 positions authorized for them in the state budget.

The vacancy rate of 17% is almost double what it was two years ago, when 9.4% of jobs were vacant.

But the downsizing of the state government dates back long before that.

Between 2011 and 2018, the legislature and then the government. Dannel P. Malloy relied primarily on attrition to reduce the executive branch’s workforce by about 10% to help address several budget shortfalls.

Union leaders said many state agencies were facing a staffing crisis even before the latest wave of retirements.

Gov. Ned Lamont, who took office in 2019, negotiated new contracts with most state employee unions last spring that he says should help Connecticut retain more of its hardest-working workers. experienced.

The agreements, which the legislature ratified in late April, provide for general wage increases of 2.5% for at least three years – and possibly four, depending on whether the two parties reopen wage negotiations or not. They also include annual step increases for all but the oldest workers, one-time bonuses totaling $3,500 per full-time worker, and pro-rated bonuses for part-time workers.

Minority Republicans in the legislature have criticized Lamont and his fellow Democrats over pay and bonuses in particular. The GOP noted that full-time workers were allowed to accept a $2,500 bonus in May and retire by July 1.

The second bonus, a payment of $1,000 for full-time employees, is expected to be paid in mid-July.

The legislature also built a new safeguard into the new state budget that begins July 1 to ensure hiring remains a priority for the executive branch.

The Legislature routinely directs the governor to find millions of dollars in savings once the budget year is underway, and that task is often accomplished — at least in part — by freezing many state jobs when they become vacant. .

The new budget sets a savings target of $140 million for the fiscal year. But it also forbids the administration to reduce the budgets of the departments as long as the State is in the black.

Lawmakers also built a nearly $300 million cushion into the $24.2 billion budget they approved earlier this spring for the 2022-23 fiscal year, raising the odds of more job vacancies. can be filled.


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