NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — This week on Capitol Report, former Connecticut Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D) and former Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R) join host Tom Dudchik to discuss state budget negotiations, a new multi-year labor agreement for unionized state employees, and a new bill that would require Americans to vote in elections or face a civil penalty.

STATE BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS

We are just 10 days away from the end of the legislative session, and there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up in the coming days, including agreeing on a state budget.

The state has a windfall of $1 billion from recent sales tax collections due to inflation, boosting the surplus to nearly $4 billion. That news has Republicans pitching a broad tax relief package, including an income tax cut.

GOP leaders were not happy to learn a property tax cut is now off the table. Republican leaders want Connecticut to join the 18 other states suing the Biden administration over the $180 million cap — a federal rule in exchange for accepting the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars.

NEW LABOR DEAL FOR STATE EMPLOYEES

A big piece of this puzzle is a multi-year labor agreement recently ratified by 43,000 unionized Connecticut state employees.

The four-year deal, which is retroactive to July 1, 2021, builds upon the agreement the state had reached in 2017 with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC).

The 35 labor contracts, which were ratified by the various unions last month, include 2.5% general wage increases and step increases retroactive to July 1, 2021. The workers will also receive additional 2.5% general wage increases and step increases beginning July 1 and July 1, 2023. State and union officials are expected to meet again in the fourth year to negotiate wages.

The $1.8 billion agreement also includes special lump-sum payments of $2,500 for active employees who’ve been on the job since March 31 and $1,000 for those employed as of July 15, 2022. There’s a pro-rated bonus for part-time employees.

CIVIC DUTY TO VOTE ACT

Voting in an election is a civic duty, but voter turnout data shows many registered voters aren’t doing their job.

Rep. John Larson (D-CT-1) introduced the Civic Duty to Vote Act last week. It would require each eligible citizen to appear to vote in each general election for federal office, and if you don’t, you face a $20 civil penalty.

Connecticut’s former Secretary of State Miles Rapoport recently called for mandatory voting. 

Now that the bill has been introduced into the House, it will have to pass a vote there. If cleared by the House, it will have to pass a vote in the Senate before being signed into law by the president.

Read the bill’s full text here.