Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

April 12, 2023


HARTFORD – State Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) applauds a bipartisan vote in the state Senate today to approve an arbitrated award granting 35,500 state employees an average of $25 a week for the year they spent working closely with others at a time when there was no COVID-19 vaccine and the COVID-19 infection process was largely a mystery.

Senate Resolution 26 passed today on a bipartisan vote of 32-3. Due to a scheduling conflict, Senator Lesser was not present for the vote on the Senate floor. Senator Lesser voted yes on the arbitration agreement in the Appropriations Committee on March 30, 2023.

“While many white collar workers were able to work from home in the pandemic, essential state workers: nurses, correctional officers, police officers, custodians and so many others had to show up each and every day,” said Sen. Lesser. “Think back to the first wave of the pandemic – how many got sick, how many passed away and the stress everyone was feeling and you’ll understand why these essential workers deserve pandemic pay. I’m so thrilled we could get this done.”

The pandemic payments were ordered by a neutral third-party arbitrator who noted that in March 2020, when Governor Lamont declared an emergency and urged people in Connecticut to “stay safe and stay home,” that did not apply to nearly 36,000 essential state employees who continued to report to their workplaces from March 20, 2020, through March 27, 2021. These employees enforced law and order, cared for the sick, the disabled, responded to emergencies and maintained the equipment and infrastructure that allowed state services to continue during a year in which there were 7,832 COVID deaths and 29,916 COVID hospitalizations.

The average award per-person is $1,333 for the year – about 62 cents an hour – though payments vary widely by position.

Other New England states providing similar pandemic pay stipends to their state employees include New Hampshire ($2,400 to $6,300 per-person), Massachusetts ($1,500 to $2,000 lump-sum payments per-person), Maine (hourly pay increases which exceed the Connecticut arbitration award) and Vermont (premium pay for corrections officers only).