Connecticut's Budget Outlook Improves With Passage Of Coronavirus Relief Bill
The passage of the massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will give a boost to Connecticut’s chances of emerging from the pandemic without major fiscal damage, according to the Lamont administration.The Biden administration’s coronavirus relief package passed the U.S. Senate Saturday afternoon in an entirely party-line vote. No Republican senator backed the measure, despite overwhelming public support in recent polls. It contains $1,400 payments for a broad swath of the American people, extended unemployment benefits and support for businesses, including the first targeted funding for restaurants and event venues.
The legislation includes money for states to increase vaccine production and distribution, and to put safety measures in place as they look to fully reopen schools.
Sen. Chris Murphy touted his success in securing dedicated funding for summer enrichment programs within the package.
“This bill is one of the most important things I’ve ever done during my time in Congress,” he said in an emailed statement just after the vote. “President Biden’s rescue plan is going to save lives, through ramped up vaccination efforts and economic relief. The country is on our side here and we were given a mandate to deliver. I applaud my colleagues for meeting this moment and the Biden administration for being laser-focused on containing this pandemic and giving the American people the kitchen table relief they deserve.”
His colleague Sen. Richard Blumenthal also hailed the bill as a game changer for states’ efforts to fight the pandemic.
This big & bold legislation meets the urgency of this moment. CT is estimated to receive around $4B—aid vital for vaccine distribution, reopening schools, & supporting first responders. We’ve said from the start we must turnaround the health crisis to end the economic crisis.— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) March 6, 2021
The bill includes $200 billion that would go directly to states. Gov. Ned Lamont said the billions coming to Connecticut will help him close the state’s budget gap.
“This is good news for us,” he said in a Friday news conference ahead of the final vote. “We would be able to preserve the rainy day fund. And some of this money would be able to go to supplementing our budget.”
An additional $130 billion in the package would go to local governments.
The municipal allocation will help support school opening plans, as well as pay for increased social services and emergency responders.
Trumbull First Selectwoman Vicki Tesoro said the legislation will help to avoid large property tax hikes in towns like hers.
“Some of our critical services will be in jeopardy due to the loss of revenue and other budget challenges created by this crisis,” she said. “That is why this stimulus bill is so necessary to provide needed funding to our municipalities. This needed funding is a direct pass-through to our residents and businesses. They are the ones who pay these taxes.”
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling echoed those sentiments.
“This bill is called the rescue bill. That’s the right name because we desperately need to be rescued from what is happening,” he said.
Connecticut Public’s Ali Warshavsky and WSHU’s Ebong Udoma contributed to this report.