Gov. Ned Lamont held a virtual press conference Tuesday to tout a nearly $700 million agreement he reached with 35 labor bargaining groups.
The deal includes $3,500 bonuses and 2.5% general wage increases.
“I want a salary structure that continues to allow me to recruit,” Lamont said.
He continued: “I want to give people some certainty and make sure they had some incentive to stay in state government.”
However, he acknowledged that employees can take the bonus and still retire on July 1.
Lamont said in the private sector a person gets a bonus for their past performance.
“When a company’s doing very well you get a bonus,” Lamont said.
So far as of April 1, 837 employees have retired this year and won’t be eligible for the bonus. The deal caused 66 employees to change their minds and stay until at least June 30.
Lawmakers still have to sign off on that deal and also balance a budget with a $1.76 billion surplus. However, they are limited when it comes to tax cuts.
They can cut about $179 million this year because of the federal ARPA rules.
Lamont said they have about $400 million in tax cuts proposed over the next two years and at least $100 million were already approved with the gas tax holiday that runs through June 30.
“Every decision has ramifications,” Lamont said. “I think we’ve got a good balance out there.”
Lamont was lukewarm to a child tax credit proposed by the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Co-Chair Sean Scanlon.
“We’re going to try and help out on child care as best we can going forward,” Lamont added.
Scanlon proposed about $300 million in child tax cuts to help families who make $200,000 a year or less.
Rep. Holly Cheeseman said it’s unrealistic given the federal constraints.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to tell the Connecticut residents that this is going to happen because our hands are tied by the federal government and if this is going to happen, we’re probably going to have to find a different way to do it,” Cheeseman said.
Scanlon countered: “It’s our job to look at that, evaluate that and figure out if there are ways that we can, not get around it per se, but work with it and the bill that you’ll have before you to fund our revenue package, will find a way to do this bill and the previous bill and it may not be the way that everyone agrees with but it is a way and it’s more than an aspiration,” Scanlon said.
As far as the child tax credit was concerned, “You can’t do everything,” Lamont said. “The legislature in their wisdom has a spending cap and there also is a cap in terms of how much tax cuts you can do, that’s under federal law.”
Lamont said lawmakers will have to choose what tax cuts they want to move forward with whether it’s his property tax credit, or car tax cut, or an increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Lawmakers are expected to unveil their revenue package Wednesday.
Lamont said he’s going to propose an off-budget account for child care, but his administration declined to say how much would be in the fund.
Office of Policy and Management Secretary Jeff Beckham said they would like to see how much the legislature wants to put toward an off-budget account. The Appropriations Committee will come out with their budget next week.
“We think we’ll have an effective counter and we hope to move the ball on that number,” Beckham said.