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Lamont Asks Federal Government To Convert Unemployment Loans To Grants

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Governor Ned Lamont wants the federal government to convert up to $1 billion in loans Connecticut has received for unemployment benefits into grants. He said businesses should not be stuck with the bill.

Lamont said he is working with members of the state's Congressional delegation to get the federal government to convert the unemployment benefit loans into grants.

“If they turn that into a grant that would be incredibly beneficial for all 50 states. And it would be a tax cut for small businesses across the country. If I can’t convince anybody of the importance and power of doing that then we’ll look at some of the other funding,” Lamont said.

Connecticut business leaders have asked Lamont and state lawmakers to use coronavirus relief funds to pay down the federal loans obtained for unemployment benefits. They say 24 states across the country are doing that. And using the federal relief money would help businesses recover from the pandemic faster.

Wendy Traub owns a small drilling business in Torrington called Hemlock Directional Boring. She said increasing taxes on business would penalize employers who’ve survived the pandemic and held on to their workers.

“Imagine receiving a tax bill from the state because you were mandated to be closed. Paying down our debt is a proactive fiscally prudent move. It just is. It protects businesses from being expected to pay back interest or loans on debts they did not choose to incur,” Traub said.

The state’s business leaders said 24 states already use federal coronavirus relief funds to help the state meet unemployment benefit obligations or pay down federal loans.

They said using the federal relief money would help businesses recover from the pandemic faster.

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.