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Connecticut ‘hero pay’ applicants could get a quarter of every dollar promised, unless lawmakers act

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Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Comptroller-elect Sean Scanlon says it will cost Connecticut $122 million to fully fund payments for "hero pay" applicants.

Connecticut needs four times the amount of money it budgeted for a recently passed law that would give a financial bonus to anyone working on the front lines of health and safety during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comptroller-elect Sean Scanlon says lawmakers only set aside roughly $30 million to give one-time payments to eligible workers, but far more people than expected ended up qualifying for what’s called “hero pay.”

“To fully fund this program means that it will cost the state $122 million to make sure that each and every one of the people who applied, each and every one of those people who served our state so well during such a difficult time, they get the bonus that they were promised and they deserve as the people we that we rightly call heroes,” Scanlon said.

It’s the comptroller’s job to implement the program. Scanlon is calling on lawmakers to address the problem in an upcoming special session. Over 134,000 people were deemed eligible.

“A lot more people applied than we thought they would,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “We had an unprecedented number of people who ended up applying for it.”

Scanlon wants lawmakers to work to find the money in the next special session, or he says eligible applicants will get about a quarter of every dollar they were promised.

“I’m hoping that we can keep the promise to get as close to what we promised people as thanks,” he said. “The minimal thanks that we can give them for the work that they did for Connecticut people during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Labor leaders have come out in support of his call.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.