That much ballyhooed suggestion box, that CT Budget chief Benjamin Barnes identified as part of the state budget, no longer exists. When Connecticut’s two-year $40B budget was put together last year, following the largest tax hike in CT history, part of balancing the spending plan included millions of dollars in anticipated savings from a suggestion box, the state’s 50,000 employees could use to identify those savings. CTmirror.org even reported “one of the elements of the labor deal – part of the state budget – is a commitment to saving $180M through labor-management committees that have been likened to employee suggestion boxes.” Republicans called the suggestion box a “gimmick,” especially CT-Sen. Len Suzio of Meriden. And at numerous budget hearings, when Suzio would ask Barnes to identify savings from the suggestion box, Barnes would never give a direct answer. As the state budget sank into the red, the legislature was forced to make revisions, including no more suggestion box.
A different suggestion box
Barnes said he was unable to “quantify” any savings advanced by state employees, so he used a different suggestion box, directing management to make cuts. “I’ve never implied that ’employee savings’ can’t be from management,’ ” Barnes told the Journal Inquirer newspaper. Barnes, who ordered many of those cuts himself, said he’s a state employee too.
Quote backs up Barnes
And to be fair, Barnes never used the term “suggestion box.” In that same ctmirror.org story, Barnes said, “First of all, it’s not an employee suggestion box, it’s labor management savings.”
In the end, however, those savings could never be identified. Maybe it’s time for a suggestion box.