The Connecticut House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution to provide members of the state employee union with $45 million in pandemic pay.
Only 15 representatives voted against the resolution on Wednesday while 129 voted in favor. Seven representatives were not present.
The resolution adopted a March decision from an arbitrator that raised the amount of pandemic pay for state employees from the budgeted $35 million to the new figure. That decision came after the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) and the State of Connecticut failed to agree on a structure and size for those payouts.
The resolution provides additional payments to state employees who were unable to work from home during the pandemic, including employees with the Department of Corrections and state hospitals.
Once distributed, these payments will be larger than the $1,000 payments made to workers in the private sector, which included a larger pool of recipients. The program, which was originally budgeted at $30 million, had to be increased to $105 million by the General Assembly.
In introducing the resolution, Rep. Michael D’Agostino (D-Hamden) said he worries that the understandable, inevitable focus on money in these debates desensitizes state representatives to the people affected.
“This resolution that we have before us today is really unique in that I think it gives us all on a bipartisan basis an opportunity to step back and really think about what our state employees do for all of us, for the citizens of the state of Connecticut,” he said. “The pandemic affected all of us, but at its height, when there was no vaccine, no PPE, no end in sight, these employees, thousands of them, came to work every day.”
The resolution will now go to the Senate for approval.