In a step avoided by Connecticut governors and legislators for the past two decades, Gov. Danneil Malloy announced that he will lay off state troopers to cut costs and help balance the state budget, the Hartford Courant reports. The decision to lay off the 56 rookie troopers marks the first trooper layoffs since the state’s fiscal crisis in 1991 under Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. The state has suffered through recessions, budget deficits, Wall Street losses and economic ups and downs during the 20 years since then, but troopers had always been treated as a specialized class in the state workforce and not subject to reductions.
Andrew Matthews, president of the troopers’ union, said that, “Laying off 56 troopers is just an unjustifiable risk to public safety.” The layoffs are the result of the troopers’ refusal to take a pay freeze that had been accepted by most other state employees in an attempt to save a projected $1.6 billion over two years. After months of negotiations, state employees agreed to a package that included a two-year wage freeze, along with changes to their healthcare and pension benefits.