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Lamont defends state employee contract deal

Conn. Gov. Ned Lamont
Jessica Hill

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said his agreement to give unionized state workers a $3,500 bonus this year is a good deal for taxpayers.

During a public hearing, opponents of the deal criticized it as an election year giveaway.

One of those opponents is Debbie Esposito, a human resource worker in the private sector. Testifying during a state appropriations committee public hearing, Esposito complained to lawmakers that taxpayers cannot afford the $1.86 billion price tag for the bonuses and raises.

“We are tired of the handouts, the money is not there and this is not in our public interest,” she said.

The bonuses and raises are needed to reward and retain state workers, Lamont said on Monday.

“It’s a fair deal for the state employees who showed up every day in the middle of covid. I’ve got to recruit and keep them in order to keep our government going. I think it’s a fair deal for the taxpayers,” he said.

The deal calls for a 2.5% general wage hike this fiscal year and in the next two years.

Leaders of the Democratic majority support the move. But the GOP minority say the bonuses would not prevent the retirement wave Lamont claims to be addressing.

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.