New law lone bright spot in national stalemate

January 22, 2019

HARTFORD — Just as the state Senate was putting the finishing touches on a bill Tuesday that will allow federal employees to obtain loans from state lending institutions, Bryan Krampovitis, a Bradley International Airport air traffic controller, was home in West Haven, prioritizing which bills he was going to pay.

Verizon was giving him a break on his phone charges, but the others, piling up over the month-long shutdown, were getting prioritized in the financial mess that has emerged for a variety of federal employees in Connecticut. Deemed essential, he and about 40 other air traffic controllers have continued the round-the-clock shifts with no pay.

So the legislation that passed in about an hour in the House of Representatives, less than half an hour in the Senate, and signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont at 3:45 p.m., was at least particlar relief for the 32-year-old, who heads the local chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. His financial cushion, he said, is quickly deflating as politicians in Washington continue to snipe over a southern border wall that has partially paralyzed the federal government.

Krampovitis, a 32-year-old single father of a preschool daughter, was watching the General Assembly, knowing that the availability of loans might help dozens of his fellow air controllers. On Monday, he had been up at Logan International Airport in Boston, leaf-letting crowds there to underscore the important work that’s being performed by people not getting paid.

“If a bill doesn’t have to get paid, I’ll put it off,” he said, explaining how some air controllers are taking part-time jobs driving for ride-hailing companies. But being a so-called essential employee is worse than a furlough, because under state law, his union members cannot apply for unemployment compensation.

“We’re definitely appreciative of the effort of the legislature,” he said, seconds after 32-1 Senate vote, which sent the bill to Lamont’s second-floor office for a hasty news conference and bill signing. It happened so fast that Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who had presided over the Senate vote, missed the signing, arriving late to Lamont’s packed second-floor office.

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