HARTFORD -- The Connecticut Department of Labor confirms that it is possibly going to be laying off 95 state workers after the federal government cut funding to the state.
Nancy Steffens, the communications director for the department, said that the federal government gave the state $28 million less than expected in funding this year, and that shortfall is expected to rise to $32 million next year. The reduction in funds is due to the dropping unemployment rate.
"We have a significant budget shortfall regarding our federal funding," Steffens said." Despite all of our efforts to cut costs, the shortfall appears too great to resolve with our current staffing levels. At this point, the agency is looking at all options, including office closing and consolidations, to save money and save jobs."
Steffens said the layoffs are not only due to the shortfall in funding, but also due to the fact that funding has remained stagnant for years now despite rising operating costs, so the drop is even more costly.
The news is alarming for union leaders at AFSCME Council 4, whose members will bear the brunt of the layoffs. "We're working with the department, with the agency, and we're going to do our best to stop this from happening and to mitigate any impact," said Larry Dorman, Spokesman for AFSCME Council 4.
The department has downsized the number of federally-funded employees by several hundred over the past few years to account for the budget gap, but more needs to be done to stay within budget. Currently, there are 800 employees within the state Department of Labor, and about 700 of those are federally-funded positions.
Notices could go out within a matter of weeks.
"Layoffs do not serve anyone's purpose, certainly not the workers, not the economy, and the Connecticut economy at large, so we have to focus on what to do to figure a way out of this," said Dorman.