HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday said reducing his own pay or further trimming non-union administrative staff, would not be the way to save money and help cover the latest budget deficit.
“We have already done that,” Malloy said when asked, during an event in Plainville to promote energy efficiency, whether he’s willing to cut his office staff or that of his commissioners.
“My staff is smaller than the staff that my predecessor had,” he said. “We have taken more administrative jobs out as a percentage than non-administrative jobs, a substantially higher percentage. We continue to be in the process of doing that.”
Malloy did not directly answer whether he’s willing to take a pay cut — a symbolic gesture — as state departments and services are being cut to cover a $365 million deficit in the current state budget and an anticipated $1.1 billion deficit during the next fiscal year.
Malloy on Wednesday ordered $170 million worth of cuts to the $20 billion state budget, the first of what is expected to be a long list of reductions in order to repair looming budget holes. The order will result in significant cuts to social service programs, such as food stamps and assistance to needy families, along with budgets for higher education, UConn and dozens of other state services.
Malloy, along with lawmakers on both sides of the isle, are in a box when it comes to covering continuing deficits. A deficit reduction package two years ago that sought to eliminate a more than $3.2 billion deficit contained the largest tax hike in state history and, because of concessions agreed to by unions, guaranteed there would be no layoffs of state workers for four years.
With payroll reductions off the table for now, and Malloy ruling out further tax increases, the only way to cover deficit is to reduce spending, and that means cutting services.
When pressed about his own office and cabinet, which is comprised of appointed commissioners who run the various state agencies, Malloy said he has already made significant reductions in both pay and administrative staff.
“Our reduction on the administrative side is 14 percent and the reduction on the non-administrative side is somewhere in the range of 5 percent,” the governor said.
“We have a number of commissioners who came in being paid less than their predecessors. You are asking about things we have already done in many cases, including freezing people’s pay, as we have done,” the governor explained.
State records show that Malloy has reduced the size of the governor’s office. For example, during the 2009 fiscal year, former Gov. M Jodi Rell spent $3.4 million to fund her office. Malloy during the 2011 fiscal year spent $2.6 million to fund his office.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said Republicans have proposed five percent pay cuts for lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly. He conceded money saved by cutting lawmaker pay is small in comparison to the overall budget.
“But it can be an important message that we get how bad it is for people. I hear people say they want government to sacrifice,” McKinney said.
Malloy’s order to cut spending across state government includes a $33,000 cut to the governor’s office. Of that, $12,000 represents skipping two national conferences hosted by the National Governors Association and the New England Governors Association. Lieutenant Gov. Nancy Wyman’s office is being asked to find $24,000 in savings in her office.
Malloy is a frequent flier, regularly attending NGA meetings and other events across the country. He traveled to China earlier this year on a trade mission, which cost more than $20,000.
“I don’t think he’s underpaid and I’m not saying he should contribute $10,000,” Cullen said. “But he tied his hands when he guaranteed no layoffs. He’s limited his own actions. He took a gamble that the state and national economy would turn around. The economy has continued to sputter and we have 9 percent unemployment and a deficit in the hundreds of millions — it’s ironic and sad,” Cullen said.
Also on Thursday, Malloy announced that Connecticut will seek $3.2 billion in federal infrastructure funding. The amount includes $2.5 billion to upgrade electricity-transmission systems; burying power lines to avoid future damage from downed trees; and the creation of so-called micro-grids to provide new power plants in urban areas.
Malloy said that during a conference call with the state’s congressional delegation, he detailed a request for $495 million for statewide municipal cleanup following Superstorm Sandy; and $125 million for state agencies.
Upgrading sewage plants, many of which failed and spewed untreated sewage into Long Island Sound at the height of the storm, would also be in the plans.
“Changing weather patterns are a reality. ... This funding would allow us to invest in a few areas that would put us in a better position to handle the inevitable when it occurs,” Malloy said in a statement.
Ken Dixon contributed to this story.