Strides for workers made during 2023 legislative session

The Connecticut General Assembly ended its recent legislative session on June 7. In this “long” session and budget year, Council 4 members worked in tandem with political staff to achieve significant wins for working people across the state.

After a three-year hiatus, Council 4’s Lobby Day returned on May 17 with a lively spirit as more than 50 members came to the Capitol in their AFSCME green to advocate for bills supporting the work they do for their communities.

Following Lobby Day, members attended a rally hosted by Recovery for All Connecticut, a coalition of labor, faith, and community groups, to call for a moral budget. About a thousand people participated on the front lawn of the Capitol to encourage the Governor and lawmakers to fund essential services that our communities rely on.

Click here to view photos from Council 4 Lobby Day and Moral Budget Rally 

Council 4 President Stacie Harris-Byrdsong, who represents paraprofessionals as President of Local 3194 (Capitol Region Education Council schools), spoke at the rally addressing the need for funding in support of education and school paraprofessionals who assist children with special needs.

Throughout the legislative session several Council 4 members provided personal testimony during public hearings. Some spoke directly with legislators through Lobby Day or in-person meetings. Many more contacted legislators through countless emails and calls.

There were plenty of gains made this legislative session. Unfortunately, setbacks are also a natural part of advocacy work at the Capitol. Council 4 members, staff, and allies will continue to advance legislation that protects workers’ rights and expands and strengthens public services.

Here are highlights from the 2023 legislative session:

Budget wins/losses:

  • $60 million in extra municipal aid was allocated in the state budget. This has the potential to support municipal members at the bargaining table.
  • The Connecticut State College and University (CSCU) system has received a severe budget cut. This could result in layoffs of higher education staff, including those of Council 4 administrative and clerical members. We will continue to monitor this situation and advocate for a return of dollars and services to CSCU.  The University of Connecticut was also cut, but it appears to be of a lesser nature.

Health Care:

  • $10 million dollars was added to assist paraprofessionals in securing affordable healthcare over the next two years. This will help lower the cost for health insurance as many paraprofessionals have premiums as high as 20 percent. Additionally for paras, statues were passed that include 18 hours of professional development and inclusion in PPT meetings. The paraprofessional union coalition will continue to advocate for higher pay to offset the high number of school paraprofessional schools, in addition to enhancing professional development training.
  • Special Act 23-6 will enforce the State Marshal Commission to conduct a study of state marshal’s health benefits, a big first step in a multi-year effort to enhance health care benefits for state marshals.
  • Red Cross members were able to pass legislation that safeguards plasma donors and requires adequate licensed medical professionals to be onsite for this medical procedure.

Expanding Workers’ Compensation:

  • PTSI Coverage
    Regardless of job type or setting, any worker who experiences a tragic event on the job will now be able to receive workers’ compensation coverage for post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). Previously, Council 4 spearheaded passage of such coverage for police officers, firefighters, and dispatchers. All workers who experience death or mutilation-induced trauma on the job are now eligible to receive this important benefit. 
    • Portal-to-Portal Coverage for Dispatchers
      HB 6721 is legislation establishing portal-to-portal workers' compensation coverage for dispatchers/telecommunicators during weather-related emergencies. When non-essential workers are directed to stay home during inclement weather, this law will ensure dispatchers can receive coverage for their commute to and from the work site if an accident was to occur.

Student Loan Refinancing for municipal employees:

  • For police officers that work in distressed municipalities, HB 5441 will encourage recruitment and retention through a state-subsidized student loan refinancing program.
  • This bill will also expand student loan refinancing in Alliance Districts to include paraprofessionals and school counselors through the CT Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA).

State Refills:

  • As staffing vacancies among state agencies continue to persist, SB 984 will help speed up the process of filling vacant state staff positions. The law allows a hiring authority to immediately fill a vacancy from a candidate list and do pre-employment checks during their working test period instead of before hiring. It will also allow a hiring authority to fill a position from a candidate list for a comparable job class.


  • An agreement was reached between the municipal leaders and state policy makers to stabilize CMERS (CT Municipal Employees and Retirement System). These changes will allow for re-amortizing CMERS and closing a $1 billion shortfall.  There are also changes in cost-of-living adjustments. This agreement should allow for expanding CMERS to more municipal employees, which is needed to increase the long-term stability of the system.
  • Over the last three years, four different bills that would prohibit overtime calculations for public employee pensions were introduced. This legislative session Council 4 prevailed once again in defeating this legislation that seeks to dismantle pensions for public employees.


  • Connecticut joined 46 other states in offering an in-person early voting option. This law will allow voters 14 days to cast ballots before the general election, including four days for a special election or presidential primary.
  • The legislature also approved a resolution for voters next year to decide changing the state constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee ballots.

Blocked legislation:

  • Bill language that might have risked the seniority of our Norwalk Transportation District members was stopped.
  • Funding to create a new charter school in Middletown that may have resulted in a loss of $4 million in state funding to Middletown Public Schools was stripped from the budget. Many Council 4 members living or working in Middletown wrote to their legislators to protect Middletown public schools by not funding a new charter school on the backs of public school students.