While many Americans have struggled financially during the pandemic, Connecticut as a state has actually been thriving.
Comptroller Natalie Braswell has projected that the state's general fund will have a surplus of nearly $1.5 billion for this fiscal year.
DAN CORCORAN: One and a half billion dollars is a whole lot of money. So, is Connecticut doing really well, financially now?
STATE COMPTROLLER NATALIE BRASWELL: Connecticut is doing fairly well financially right now. I mean, we still have, in terms of things that are affecting our economy, COVID continues to be a disruption. There's a national slowdown in job growth, but Connecticut has actually added jobs for 12 straight months in a row. And we've recovered about 75% of the jobs that we lost during COVID.
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DAN CORCORAN: So, where did all this money come from? This wasn't something that just accumulated during the pandemic, right?
NATALIE BRASWELL: No, it's definitely not something that has just accumulated during the pandemic. We've had, you know, I think some, some really good fiscally sound things that have happened over the last couple of years, including the rainy day fund. We've had a lot of federal aid from the COVID response that has helped, federal funding sources that have helped the general fund budget this year and next year, but because of that we can't necessarily depend on those same revenue sources for years to come. And we need to really look at sort of the long-term challenges that the state will face.
DAN CORCORAN: I bet a lot of people are listening right now and they're wondering, how will this money be used? Will we as Connecticut residents be seeing any of it or at least seeing any financial benefit or relief from it?
NATALIE BRASWELL: We're going to be paying down our debt, we're going to be paying down our pension liability, we're going to be paying down our bonding debt. And I think, you know, we need to continue to do those kinds of things and plan long-term so that residents and businesses and Connecticut can continue to thrive.
DAN CORCORAN: Now looking ahead to the next couple of years, the pandemic, of course, is still a big concern. There’s speculation this virus is going to be around for a while. Are you concerned about the fiscal future of Connecticut? Or do you think this massive surplus does set us up to be OK for a while?
NATALIE BRASWELL: I think that we're in pretty good shape, but we have to be vigilant. We have to make sure that, you know we're doing the things that we need to do and not just think that this is going to solve all of our problems. It won't unless we're vigilant in terms of doing the things we need to do.
DAN CORCORAN: State Comptroller Natalie Braswell, thank you so much for talking about this with us tonight.
NATALIE BRASWELL: No problem. Appreciate it. Thank you