State leadership responds to potential union deal

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HARTFORD -- A potential union deal is getting sharp criticism and praise.

"It is ground breaking. Not just in Connecticut but on a national basis," said Gov. Dannel Malloy at a press conference Tuesday. "It is an extraordinary in its scope and when we get the full valuation they'll understand that but they're going to say what they're going to say."

A proposed agreement between Malloy and state employee union leaders is being billed by the administration as 'an historic agreement' that will save more than $1.5 billion over the next two years.

The estimated savings match what Malloy has been seeking to help balance the new two-year state budget, which is projected to have a total $5 billion deficit. Malloy is trying to reach a budget agreement with state lawmakers.

But House Republican Leader Themis Klarides contests the proposal. "That would have been fine five or six or ten years ago. in 2017, facing a $2.5 Billion deficit and cuts upon cuts and the two tax increases in the state's history, it's not good enough."

Union leaders still need to agree to offer the tentative framework for an agreement to rank-and-file members for their consideration.

Union leaders said in a statement:

This framework and potential savings are a clear example of why collective bargaining is so imperative for our state. Without collective bargaining, the billions of dollars in savings would not have been realized. This was an important first step as middle class workers are doing their part to help solve the budget deficit. Now is the time for legislators to ask the same of the state's most wealthy and billion dollar corporations.

"I would commend both the Governor and the leadership of the union coalition of coming to the product," said State Sen. Martin Looney, Democratic President Pro Tempore. "I think it does represent substantial concession on the part of the union."

State leadership is planning to meet to continue budget talks this week.