Raises of between 3 percent and 6 percent and cash bonuses of 11 percent to several Connecticut lottery officials last summer have prompted a call by some lawmakers to review salaries at Connecticut's quasi-public agencies.
The Connecticut Lottery Corp. authorized "incentive payments" for 17 officials, including two part-timers. The total value of the bonuses is $160,926.
Some lawmakers and labor leaders say the raises and bonuses are discouraging to rank-and-file state workers who are being asked to accept a wage freeze in their new contracts.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell has warned leaders of state employee unions that the administration will likely ask for a wage freeze in the first year of labor contracts. Next fiscal year's projected budget deficit is estimated at about $500 million by Democrats and as much as $1.3 billion by Rell's office.
Rep. David D. McCluskey, D-West Hartford, said the lottery program is unusual in state government.
"No state employee got an 11 percent increase last year," he said. "It begs the question: Why did we turn the lottery into a quasi-public agency in the first place?"
Diane Patterson, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut Lottery Corp., told The Associated Press Friday that the bonuses were part of an incentive program tied to the corporation's performance as authorized by legislation enacted in 1996. The lottery paid a record $280 million into the state's general revenue fund last year, she said.
"For a number of years, there were no bonuses," she said.
Patterson would not comment on efforts in the legislature to review salaries at the lottery or other quasi-public agencies.
McCluskey said the General Assembly should examine salary increases for quasi-public agency staff members if a disparity of raises is too widespread, he said.
"Since we're supposed to be in this new spirit of accountability in state government, maybe we need to know in advance what each quasi-public agency has planned," he said. "These raises are just another example of 'do as I say, not as I do."'
Sen. Edith G. Prague, D-Columbia, co-chairwoman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, said quasi-public agencies typically oversee millions of state dollars and their employees should not be viewed differently than workers in other state agencies.