Connecticut state lawmakers easily pushed through their first legislation of the current session on Tuesday, which will enable nonessential and essential federal workers who are working without pay to receive loans and unemployment assistance under a public-private partnership.
The House passed the bill by a vote of 127-15, and the Senate followed with a 32-1 vote of approval, whereupon it was sent to Gov. Ned Lamont for his signature.
Affected federal employees are eligible for as many as three loans of up to $5,000 each at participating financial institutions, depending on a worker’s monthly after-tax pay, less any unemployment compensation. As they are technically employed, the workers would normally not be eligible for state unemployment, but the new legislation allows them to collect those benefits.
The legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis said that banks and credit unions would probably issue some $21.1 million in loans. The state will guarantee up to 10 percent of those loans, which must be interest-free for at least 270 days after the shutdown ends.
The bill also authorizes municipalities to establish a tax-deferment program for their affected federal employees, which could include property taxes on land, buildings and motor vehicles, as well as water and sewage treatment service assessments.
“This unique and innovative partnership will help federal workers access the funding necessary to pay their bills and put food on the table during the shutdown,” Lamont said. “Its quick, bipartisan approval by the General Assembly is an example of what we can accomplish when we partner with the private sector and come together as leaders, rather than Democrats or Republicans.
“I don’t know when the shutdown will end,” Lamont said, “but I do know that the state of Connecticut and the private sector will continue to work together to help those in need.”
“What separates Connecticut lawmakers from Washington politicians is that here in our state Republicans and Democrats can, have and will continue to work together to reach solutions,” Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said. “We have shown time and again that the best way to solve problems is through a bipartisan approach. Partisanship may be creating gridlock in Washington, but it is bipartisanship that is creating movement in Connecticut.”