Gov. Lamont promises to veto assistance for striking workers

Democratic lawmakers approved the bill just minutes before their midnight deadline Wednesday night.

John Craven

May 9, 2024, 10:12 PM

Updated 15 days ago


Just hours after state lawmakers wrapped up their business for the year, Gov. Ned Lamont promised to veto a controversial bill extending state assistance to striking workers.
"I want to make sure that we have a strong labor to be able to negotiate at the table," Lamont told reporters. "Does that mean I want the taxpayers subsidizing striking workers? I don't think I do."
Democratic lawmakers approved the bill just minutes before their midnight deadline Wednesday night.
The legislation does not directly mention striking workers. Instead, it creates a new $3 million "Connecticut Families and Workers Account" administered by the state comptroller – a way to avoid hitting businesses with higher unemployment premiums. But Connecticut Senate President Martin Looney (D-New Haven) left little doubt who the money was intended for.
"Those workers, we know, struggle," he said. "No one undertakes a strike lightly. It is always a financial struggle for families."
Lamont blasted fellow Democrats for swapping out an unrelated bill in the final days of the legislative session.
"If you want to have public dollars to support striking workers, have a vote – up or down," Lamont said on Thursday. "It's so damn vague, I don't really know what's in it."
Republicans – who initially threatened to filibuster the measure – praised Lamont's stance.
"The governor recognizes the absolute absurdity of the brazen bill that all of his fellow Democrats voted for," Senate GOP leaders said in a statement. "They signed off on a bill which had no public hearing, so they willingly silenced the voice of the people. They voted yes to create a slush fund for the State Comptroller."
Lamont does support the biggest bill to pass this year – extending sick days to nearly all Connecticut workers by 2027.
Lawmakers also approved new election security measures following the ballot stuffing scandal in Bridgeport, added protections for health care workers after a visiting nurse was murdered in Willimantic and shorter wait times for wheelchair repairs.
"Ninety percent of consumers are waiting a month for an in-home assessment, and a month for an in-home repair," said Jonathan Sigworth, a wheelchair user from Stratford.
Lamont has already signed seven bills into law, including a ban on medical debt being reported to credit agencies.
But many bills ran out of time, after Republicans filibustered several of them on the final day. The proposals that died include sweeping new rules on artificial intelligence, a ban on "no cause" evictions when a renter's lease ends, an eventual ban on police using Russian-and Chinese-made drones, and a crackdown on dangerous "street takeovers."
Lawmakers failed to call Lamont's bill addressing the Connecticut State Police false ticket probe. It would have made it a crime to falsify police records.
Also left on the chopping block? Two major environmental proposals.
Lawmakers abandoned a task force to study an electric vehicle/plug-in hybrid mandate for all new cars by 2035. The move leaves Connecticut in legal limbo, since the state is bound to follow California's strict emissions standards. They also tabled a massive climate change bill that would have accelerated the state's zero-carbon goals.
Lawmakers also sent $160 million in federal relief money to the University of Connecticut system and Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, which operates the state's four regional universities and 12 community colleges.
"It's a huge boost," CSCU chancellor Terrence Cheng told News 12 Connecticut's "Power and Politics."
But Cheng said the money is not enough to avoid a 5% tuition increase this fall.
"The money is enough so that we don't have to make more painful cuts," he told host Mark Sudol.
Nonprofits that provide dozens of critical services will also receive $50 million in American Rescue Plan funds.
But all that federal money runs out this year. Republicans are warning that Lamont could unilaterally make cuts should state agencies hit red ink.
"The governor now is going to have to be that adult over the next couple of months, to make these cuts and balance the budget," said House GOP leader Vin Candelora (R-North Branford). "And the children around him can't cry about it."
But Lamont's budget chief pushed back on that claim, insisting that Connecticut will remain in the black.
"I don't see that problem right now," said Office of Policy and Management director Jeffrey Beckham. "That was a problem we had to solve, and we solved it."

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