State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, Southington, got the call to head back to the state Capitol Friday while he was home Thursday night.
He knew that was not a good sign.
"The union concessions bill is dead," Aresimowicz said from the Capitol Friday afternoon. "The two-year budget is out of balance by $1.6 billion and the governor has said that he is going to lay off as many as 7,500 workers."
"He can only lay off a certain percentage on his own, so he has asked the House and Senate to give him the power to do more. It looks like we will move on this by next Wednesday or Thursday to grant him that power."
Aresimowicz said that while the towns of Berlin and Southington should be safe this year, he knows many residents work for the state or state agencies and there will be a trickle-down effect into the municipalities.
"There is no secret there will be a trickle-down effect," he said. "If a resident of Berlin or Southington loses his or her job and COBRA costs $1,400 a month to insure their family and unemployment pays about $500 more a month than COBRA costs, I think we can all see what is coming. You're looking at residents losing their houses or their vehicles. It's a disaster.
"There is also the component of agencies in town that depend on grants from the state that will no longer get that funding. Whether it is a non-profit or a service agency, they might not be able to operate."
Aresimowicz said even with the lack of concessions - it was the vote of the AFSCME union that rejected the deal - the towns, like Berlin and Southington, should not see an immediate impact. According to Aresimowicz, the governor knows towns have set their mill rates and sent out or are going to send out their tax bills for the year.
"People of this state appreciate the core workers who are working hard and providing valuable services, but how many times can they read about state employees whose pensions are twice their salary and are abusing the system, I know I can't read it anymore," Aresimowicz said. "I know those people that we value are not the ones voting against the shared concessions proposal. It is being voted down by the ones who are getting sweetheart deals."
Aresimowicz's background is in labor negotiations, so this whole process has been difficult for him to understand.
"Both the unions and the state have to act," he said. "We both pledged to share the sacrifice and now the union are saying they don't want to do that. I'm disappointed the governor has to lay off this many people, but he's got no choice. We can't print money in the state, so we have to bridge the gap that is there.
"I feel terrible for my constituents and all of the residents of this state that have to look at their kids and not know if they are going to have a job next week. It is a catastrophe."
Aresimowicz said he can be reached by phone by any of his constituents in Berlin or Southington. He pledged to do his best to explain what he is doing to try to make things better. He can be reached at 860-240-8585 or Joe.Aresimowicz@cga.ct.gov.