Personnel costs make up thirty percent of the state budget - a budget that's at least 340 million dollars in deficit. Republican lawmakers want more flexibility to deal with the costs of state employee contracts.
On January 5, a state arbitrator released an award for correctional officers who have been working without a contract since June. The three-year deal includes a three percent pay raise this year, and two and a half percent raises the two years after that.
Governor Jodi Rell says the state cannot afford the deal, and she wants lawmakers to reject it.
Lawmakers have 30 days to weigh in, but if they do nothing, the correctional officers' contract, and the 86 million dollars in additional personnel costs, go into effect automatically.
House and Senate Republicans want to extend that deadline - until June 3, the end of the session.
Representative Larry Cafero is the House Minority Leader.
"The practical effect of that is to take into consideration, without rejecting out of hand, all of the collective bargaining agreements that are coming down the pike."
Eleven more state employee contracts are set to expire by the end of June. The Republicans say the new schedule will allow lawmakers to do a better job of considering the total costs of union contracts as they make budget decisions.
The coalition of State Employee Unions oppose the idea, calling it a clear attack on unions' ability to negotiate with their employer.
Democratic House Speaker Chris Donovan isn't warm to the proposal either. He says rather than having the legislature change the rules, this should be part of the governor's wage concession conversations with all state employee unions. Those conversations are scheduled to begin on Wednesday.