Barnes: Assuming Legislature Approves Deal, Most Layoff Notices Can Be Ignored

State Budget Director Ben Barnes Takes Questions
Photo:Jeff Cohen/WNPR
Barnes Meets The Press
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Barnes Meets The Press


Governor Dannel Malloy's budget director says most of the layoff notices already issued to Connecticut state employees will be rescinded. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the state still needs to find more than $100 million in savings to balance its budget.
Ben Barnes says that about 3,100 notices have already been sent out. And for those employees whose unions approved the recent agreements with the state, the layoff notices can pretty much be ignored.
"If you've gotten the notice you will be notified that your separation date has been pushed to Sept. 1. And then, assuming that Sept. 1 comes and goes without an active rejection of the deal by the General Assembly, which, I will tell you, seems unlikely, then we will make arrangements to completely rescind the layoff notice on Sept. 1."
One unit voted against the health care, retirement and wage changes. 
Barnes says he doesn't expect short-term closures of state rest areas or river ferries that were contemplated before.  But he did say he'd consider structural changes to the way that both are operated.  He also said the state won't have to close DMV offices and lay people off.
"Now that we're not going to do that, I anticipate that the lines will be shorter, they will be more of them so they will move more quickly, and l hope that the motoring pubic will be inconvenienced as little as possible." 
Moving forward, Barnes says the administration will start sitting down with labor representatives to try and identify still more savings called for in the state budget.  He says he's confident the money will be found.
"We have half a million dollars from reducing the way in which we provide security in state office buildings.  We can shorten the hours, still leaving them open well beyond normal business hours, and save another $400,000.  We can change the frequency of cleaning the office buildings and save $500,000."
Barnes says the state will also save money by not filling a significant portion of its roughly 2,500 job vacancies.
For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.