Good for Governor Lamont and the state legislators who approved the new state budget, which is providing 7.5% raises to about 1,700 managers in state government, along with $2,000 bonuses for some, adding up to more than $15 million. It's not just good in itself. It's also good for demonstrating just how incompetent state government is generally.
There is a strong case for the raises. Not being unionized, many state government managers are paid less than the unionized employees they supervise, since the compensation of the nonunionized managers has been a lot easier to control. As a result, many managers have petitioned to unionize and have been allowed to do so in pursuit of higher pay.
It's ridiculous but now, for example, assistant attorneys general, state police captains and lieutenants, deputy prison wardens, and child welfare supervisors are unionized. That is, the managers are organized against management.
Only about 6 percent of state government employees are true managers, not being union members, or about one for every 17 employees. That's hardly any management at all.
Quite apart from fairness, the raises are compelling because many senior state managers are considering retiring next year, and replacing them with experienced employees within state government will be impossible if promotion to management means a pay cut.
Fortunately, the new budget provides that from now on raises for nonunionized managers will match those for unionized employees. But while this linkage should prevent more devaluation of management, it won't address the perpetual lack of management. So unionization of managers in state government now should be prohibited and the percentage of managers should be increased.
This should start with the management groups that recently unionized, whose unionization should be undone and prohibited by law. It should continue with the repeal of the law recently enacted by the General Assembly, at the behest of Democratic legislators and the unions that control them, that injects union representatives into orientation meetings for state government's new hires and provides unions with the new hires' home contact information. The new law makes state government sabotage itself.
Additionally, the governor and legislators should start asking: How does the public benefit from collective bargaining for government employees? Of course nearly all legislators, including Republicans, are too scared of the unions to ask that question, though collective bargaining in state government has mainly abolished management, discipline, and accountability and turned the workforce into a political army for the majority party at election time.
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Interviewed by Connecticut's Hearst newspapers the other day, Governor Lamont sounded more like a Republican than a leader of the state's Democratic Party.
"Every governor since Bill O'Neill has raised taxes," Lamont said. "It didn't result in lower property taxes. It didn't result in any efficiencies. I'm not sure it really resulted in better services. And it was creating an incredible cloud of doubt hanging over the state.
"I'm not going to raise taxes unless we're really in an impossible pickle. It's a terrible thing to do.
“I've raised revenues," the governor added, citing what he calls his "highway user fee on trucks," legal marijuana, and sports gambling. "And if you really want to raise revenues, grow the damn economy.”
The governor apparently wasn't asked about his bumbling effort to impose highway tolls, from which he was rescued first by loud opposition and then by the virus epidemic. But now with billions in emergency federal money, Lamont's position on taxes seems secure against the tax hunger that moves his party's state legislators.
Maybe someday the governor will be pressed about his observation that raising taxes hasn't accomplished anything – at least not for the public interest. Of course, raising taxes long has worked well in one sense, sustaining the government class, the core of the governor's party.
But before that issue is raised again, the governor may want to talk a lot about things that make him sound more Democratic – like transgender rights, Juneteenth, Indian mascots, and other politically correct trivia.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.