As you may have heard, the 2018 legislative session ended at midnight. Democrats and Republicans were able to put forth a bipartisan $20.86 billion budget that was approved and is now on the Governor’s desk. The Senate passed the budget 36-0 and the House passed it 142-8.
The Community Colleges are facing a $6 million cut to its block grant. The System was able to secure $16 million for the fringe benefits of its employees (of $22 million needed), but we do not know the effect yet of the $6 million cut on overall system operations. More information will be known in the days ahead.
There was some momentum on the part of the Higher Education Committee to restrict the Board of Regents rights to close colleges. (See next article on Consolidation for more information).
The package does not include several major changes sought by Republicans to collective bargaining rules regarding state and municipal employees. But as stated below, they plan to raise these proposals again.
The collective bargaining rules sought “included:
- Ending collective bargaining for retirement benefits after the current contract expires in mid-2027, leaving all of these matters to be resolved solely by the legislature.
- Removing overtime from pension calculations.
- Suspending cost-of-living adjustments to pensions for retirees who become vested after mid-2027 until the system holds enough assets to cover 80 percent of pension obligations. The funded ratio currently stands at less than 40 percent.
“We’re not going to let that be the deal-breaker” Fasano said during a press conference a few hours before the Senate’s budget debate. But he added that Republicans still feel strongly about these issues and expect to raise them again in future years” (CT Mirror).