HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Ned Lamont, an early supporter of President-elect Joe Biden, said the former vice president understands how important state and local aid is, and as such Lamont said he is hopeful that the state will see a boost in federal funds once Biden is sworn into office.
Lamont said the federal funds Connecticut received through the CARES Act helped pay for COVID-19 expenses, but it didn’t cover the loss of revenue every state experienced from the impact COVID had on the economy.
Even with a divided U.S. Senate, Lamont said he hopes they can come together and get something done “before they start attacking each other.”
Connecticut is facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit for the 2021-22 fiscal year, and Lamont will have to propose a two-year budget to a newly elected General Assembly in early February, around the same time his emergency powers run out.
Lamont said he’s worked with the legislature to give him the executive authority he needs and he’s tried not to wander from the “core mission” to do everything they can on a timely basis to prevent the spread of the virus.
He said Republicans want him to use his executive authority to “tear up the labor agreements,” while Democrats, according to Lamont, want him to use it to “ban guns.”
“I’m focused on our response to COVID. You’ve given me a fair amount of authority. I hope I’ve used it judiciously to hold the rate of infection down,” Lamont said.
There are 10 bargaining group agreements set to expire in 2021. Will Lamont make sure those bargaining groups don’t receive an increase in their salaries? Their health and benefits negotiated by the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition don’t expire until 2027.
Lamont didn’t specifically answer the question, but he said there are still opportunities with about 20% of the workforce eligible for retirement in the next few years to make changes.