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Connecticut GOP lawmakers claim unemployment debt threatens small business recovery

Nam Y. Huh
Associated Press

In Connecticut, Republican lawmakers have joined small business groups to urge Governor Ned Lamont to use federal pandemic relief money to pay the state’s unemployment benefit loans.

The state borrowed about $888 million from the federal government to cover pandemic driven unemployment benefits. About half of that money has been paid back through a tax on businesses and some federal COVID relief funds.

The relief money should be used to pay off the rest of the loan, said Representative Vincent Candelora, the GOP House minority leader.

“We can spare $400 million for our businesses to make sure that they emerge from this potential recession, but more importantly out of this current inflation that we are faced with, is very troubling to me,” he said.

Democratic Governor Ned Lamont said he’s willing to consider that, but the money would have to be diverted from other projects.

“If you want to pour more money into the unemployment fund, just say I’m not going to do as much with the pension. You've got to make some choices in life. I made mine. I presented that a couple of months ago and I think we are getting pretty close,” said Lamont.

The governor is negotiating a final budget deal with lawmakers this week. He hopes an agreement would soon be reached so that lawmakers can pass a budget before the General Assembly adjourns on May 4.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.