Lawmakers Leverage Pandemic Relief Funds

Issues & Policies

The legislature, while not making formal changes to the current two-year budget, leveraged the last of the state’s federal pandemic relief funds to cover a range of program costs.

Lawmakers allocated approximately $372.5 million, the balance of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funding, to cover deficiencies and spending priorities in the current budget. 

A series of carryforward and lapses from various agencies was also used in HB 5523, with the measure passing the House 103-48 and 26-10 in the Senate.   

The bill results in a net reduction in spending cap room of $9.9 million (from $10.4 million to $0.5 million under the cap).  

The legislature’s top spending priorities included higher education, funding for nonprofits, education, and municipal aid. 

The University of Connecticut, UConn Health System, and Connecticut State Colleges and Universities were the biggest recipients of funding with additional allocations of $57.7 million, $22.3 million, and $40 million respectively.

One-Time Funding

Legislative leaders continued to emphasize that the allocations represent one-time funding.

The bill also requires the comptroller to use up to $4.5 million to cover a portion of fringe benefits for UConn Health employees.  

Legislative leaders, in a semi-bipartisan manner, provided additional funds for nonprofits including a series of grants to museums, local nonprofit organizations, and $50 million to the Office of Policy and Management for nonprofit providers.

The reallocation plan also included funding for early childhood education, including $1.8 million for the Tri-share PILOT program in eastern Connecticut. 

The  reallocation included $18.8 million in additional funding for Care4Kids and $1.2 million in the Smart Start Program.    


Many cities and towns also saw additional funding including: 

  • Danbury: $12 million
  • Waterbury: $5.5 million
  • New Haven: $1.5 million
  • Norwalk: $5 million
  • New Britain: $4 million
  • Meriden: $0.5 million
  • Bridgeport: $7 million
  • Hartford Sewage Repair and Improvement Fund: $4 million

Eastern Connecticut also saw additional funding restored to the Shoreline East Rail Line with an allocation of $5 million.

Section 56 of the bill also extends, from five years to 10, the time period for which certain municipalities are deemed to be distressed after being removed from the annual list published by the Department of Economic and Community Development. 

Section 77 of the bill increases the maximum Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant amount from $500,000 to $1M per fiscal year.    


The plan also reduced ARPA allocations in accounts that either did not use all of the funding, were not able to meet contractual deadlines, or were simply unallocated to date. These included: 

  • Outdoor Recreation maintenance, repair, and renovation: $11.8 million
  • Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management: $5 million
  • Housing initiatives: $4.8 million
  • Promote Healthy and Lead-Safe Environments: $10 million
  • COVID Response Measures: $20.4 million
  • Two Months Premium Assistance Under Access Health CT: $10 million
  • Client Support Funds-Community Action Agencies: $7 million
  • Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program: $4.9 million
  • Implement Electronic Health Records: $12.8 million
  • Senior Centers: $3.5 million
  • Support School Air Quality: $75 million

The bill also included a series of policy changes, including increasing the rebate for electric vehicle purchases in environmental justice communities to 200% of the current rebate using existing funds within the program.   

Workforce Development, Retention Initiatives

Sections 17 and 18 require the Department of Correction and the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division to do a needs assessment on vocational village which provides higher education opportunities and career training for incarcerated individuals. 

The allocation plan expands the student loan reimbursement pilot program through the Office of Higher Education by expanding the program to individuals who graduate with an associate degree and allows the commissioner to post and review hardship waivers.   

Section 53 of the bill prohibits the Office of Higher Education from reducing the amount of need-based grants a student receives from the Roberta Willis Scholarship Program based on a student’s initial qualifications as determined by FAFSA.

Section 75 makes changes to the state’s Pledge to Advance CT program by expanding eligibility to include transition program students as well as increasing the minimum award amounts from $250 to $500 for full time students and $150 to $300 for part-time students.   

The bill does eliminate a series of student loan forgiveness programs that are undersubscribed.  

Revenue Changes

The bill makes a series of changes to revenue policies including increasing the Passport to Parks fee from $15 to $24 for a triennial registration, $10 to $16 for a biennial registration, and $5 to $8 for an annual registration.

The fund supports park maintenance and will assist in the revitalization of Batterson Park and the Thames River Heritage Park. Proponents of the bill stated that the increase is also due to inflation and rising costs.    

The plan suspends the annual $12 million disbursement from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund and instead redirects this amount to the General Fund.

The bill eliminates the Biomedical Research Trust Fund and transfers the balance to the General Fund.  That fund allowed the Public Health Commissioner to award grants to nonprofit colleges and universities and hospitals that do biomedical research in heart disease, cancer, and other tobacco-related diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Finally, the bill exempts the XL Center from the state’s sales and use tax.  

For more information, contact CBIA’s Ashley Zane (860.244.1169) | @AshleyZane9.


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