The agreement between the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) and Gov. Ned Lamont has cleared its final hurdle, as the Senate voted to approve the $1.86 billion deal.
The bill passed the senate with a 22-13 vote along party lines, as was expected.
The agreement, which includes multiple raises and bonuses for 46,000 state employees over the next 3 years, will now go to the governor’s desk for his signature.
In addition to a 2.5 percent general wage increase every year for the length of the agreement, state employees will also receive 2 percent step increases. The agreement also includes two bonuses, a $2,500 lump sum to be paid out before July 2022, and an additional $1,000 to be paid out after that date.
Sen. Catherine Osten, D-Sprague, argued in defense of the raises for state workers saying that due to the state’s dicey financial situation in past years, state workers have been left waiting for a wage increase.
“This is the first time we’ve really had the capacity as a state to address the wages of the workers,” Osten said. These state workers are important for each and every one of us.
Sen. Osten also made the point that had the contract negotiation gone to arbitration, the cost of the agreement would have likely been a lot higher than the current $1.86 billion dollar price tag.
However, Senate Republicans were not buying, arguing against the tax burden the bill will impose upon Connecticut residents.
“It is a $1.9 billion increase in spending that equates to $1,330 for the average family in Connecticut in higher taxes over the next four years,” Sen. Ryan Fazio, R-Greenwich, said. “Every single dollar we spend here will have to be borne by regular, everyday people in the form of higher taxes or cuts to vital social services.”
Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, added that families are having a hard enough time making ends meet without the added tax burden.
“We have an unaffordable community, and you hear it all the time, unaffordable healthcare, unaffordable housing, unaffordable everything,” Sen. Kelly said. “And it doesn’t make it any easier when you’re putting another $2 billion debt load on these struggling families.”
The SEBAC agreement cleared the House of Representatives the day before in a mostly party-line vote, following a time-limited three hour debate.