Overtime costs for CT employees are rising again according to a report


Connecticut government overtime costs continued to rise to open the new fiscal year, according to a new report from nonpartisan analysts.

But the same development that helped trigger the latest increase – a rise in veteran retirements between January and June – has also left overall payroll costs well below those of a decade ago.

State agencies, excluding the University of Connecticut, spent $77.9 million on overtime between July 1 and September 30, the first quarter of the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Office of Budget Analysis of the Legislature.

This represents $7.9 million or 11.3% more than agency spending in the same three-month period last year.

OFA totals include all three branches of government and most higher education units, but exclude the University of Connecticut’s main campus at Storrs and most of its satellite campuses, which use a human resources system / pays different from the rest of the state government.

The latest report from nonpartisan analysts comes just months after Connecticut closed the books on the 2021-2022 budget that saw General Fund overtime spending rise by $26.1 million or 11.1% for the year, reaching $266 million.

But rising overtime costs have not translated into higher overall compensation spending for the state.

The Office of Policy and Management estimates that total compensation in all areas covered by the OFA report – including salaries, overtime bonuses and paid vacations – will be approximately $2. $5 billion this fiscal year.

That’s well below the $3.4 billion annual payroll of a decade ago, once the 2012 price of $2.7 billion is adjusted for inflation using the US Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which includes most labor unions except state police officers, has argued for much of the past two years that public sector staffing has reached a critical point. .

“State workers are exhausted, working triple and even quadruple shifts just to keep the doors open,” said Labor Coalition spokesman Drew Stoner.

While understaffing is a concern in all state governments, Stoner said, the problem has reached a critical stage in several departments, including mental health and addiction services, corrections, developmental services and children and families.

The latest report and others from nonpartisan analysts show that some of the biggest growth in overtime has occurred at these agencies.

The four departments Stoner cited, plus the Department of Emergency Services and Public Safety — which includes the state police — account for 92% of overtime spending in the first quarter of this fiscal year and in each of the two previous years.

SEBAC pushed Governor Ned Lamont and the General Assembly to adopt an aggressive recruitment policy for the positions – across all agencies – after more than 4,400 older workers retired between Jan. 1 and June 30. In a typical year, the state sees 2,000 to 2,500 retirements.

Many workers then quit to avoid retiring under new pension rules that came into force on July 1.

A new system of cost-of-living adjustments to pension payments is linked to the Consumer Price Index and has a series of caps that could produce adjustments below the CPI.

The first COLA payment for workers who retired after July 1 will not come until 30 months after retirement. Under the old system, this payment was made in the first nine to fifteen months.

Despite this surge in retirements, most of the state’s workforce erosion occurred during the decade of the 2010s.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who served from 2011 to 2018, worked with the legislature to cut staff to help alleviate frequent budget shortfalls.

The workforce of the executive branch, excluding all higher education units, fell by 10% during his tenure, falling to about 26,500, according to the Office of Policy and Management, the principal budget and labor relations agency of the executive branch.

“A dedicated, fully staffed state workforce is what Connecticut needs to properly deliver the crucial public services our state residents rely on without increasing overtime expenses,” Stoner added. .

The Department of Administrative Services works with other agencies to develop job descriptions and vacancies and otherwise oversee the hiring process.

And DAS commissioner Michelle Gilman and Lamont said in late June that the so-called “silver tsunami” of retirements was milder than expected, but the executive branch was responding and agencies are well placed to preserve services.

Competitive salaries and bonuses, more strategic recruiting efforts, and an increased reliance on digital platforms and hybrid working conditions have helped the state hire more than 6,000 people in the past fiscal year, about 1,000 more than normal.

Last spring, the governor negotiated, and the legislature ratified, new four-year wage contracts with bargaining units representing the bulk of the state’s workforce.

The contracts include annual 2.5% cost-of-living increases, step increases — adding another 2 or 2.5 percentage points to the pay of all but the oldest workers — and $3,500 in bonuses. distributed in spring and summer.

“DAS is proud of the work we’ve done with our agency partners to turn every stone to recruit talent, especially positions in health care, public safety and other areas serving the most vulnerable residents. Connecticut’s most vulnerable,” Gilman said last week. .


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