United States

Connecticut to provide ‘hero’ pay to essential workers

(The Center Square) — Hundreds of thousands of Connecticut workers who toiled in hospitals, grocery stores and other front line businesses during the pandemic will be receiving $1,000 checks from the state government.

The state Comptroller’s Office said it will begin distributing “hero” payments next month to more than 155,000 “essential” workers in the health care, public safety, education and food service industries who stayed on the job over the past two years.

“During times of difficult uncertainty, Connecticut’s frontline workers stepped up and kept our grocery stores open, our hospitals operational, our communities safe and so much more,” Comptroller Sean Scanlon said in a statement. “They were essential to getting us through the pandemic, and this payment is just one small way we can thank them.”

“By providing some relief, we can show how grateful we are to our heroes,” he added.

Scanlon said the state will begin processing one-time direct deposit payments for about 120,000 workers beginning Feb. 1. Another 35,000 paper checks will be mailed out in five-to-six weeks, he said.

The state will be making an estimated 20,000 payments every week, in the order applications were submitted, Scanlon said.

To be eligible, private sector workers must earn less than $149,999 a year, and have been unable to perform their jobs from home from March 10, 2020 to May 7, 2022.

The program was approved in 2021 by the Democratic-controlled Assembly and signed by Gov. Ned Lamont as part of a $46.4 billion, two-year state budget.

But more workers qualified for the payments than the state had projected, forcing the lawmakers to allocate another $90 million during a special lame duck session last year.

The Connecticut Premium Pay Program is one of two state “hero pay” initiatives created to provide financial relief for essential workers who toiled throughout the pandemic.

The state also has a $34 million grant fund to help workers who lost wages and faced COVID-19-related medical expenses and burial costs.

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