HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- A program designed to get Connecticut back to work has backfired for one local man.

Months after getting a job and keeping it, he has yet to see his “signing bonus.”

Bruce Lavigne is a graphic designer and was freelancing during the pandemic.

“Updates to client’s websites, but no real full-time work to be offered at all,” he said.

For months he said he was searching.

“All the resume boards, I was putting ads on Craigslist, I was in touch with all the headhunters. Every avenue that was out there, that resume was out there,” he explained.

On May 17, he saw Gov. Ned Lamont announce a lucrative opportunity for people still on the sideline.

“Starting on Monday, Connecticut’s going to offer you a $1,000 signing bonus. You see the big athletes get a signing bonus, why don’t you get a signing bonus as well,” Lamont had said.

The “Back to Work CT” program was a push to incentivize people to get off unemployment, and $10 million was set aside for 10,000 workers.

The timing was great because Bruce was set to start a full-time graphic design job on May 24.

“All the documents were submitted, and they were resubmitted again,” he said.

So far, the Department of Revenue has paid out more than $3.8 million since August, but Bruce hasn’t received his check. Week after week he waited, but still nothing.

“I was actually disappointed, because I expected this money,” Lavigne said.

According to the Dept. of Revenue, to qualify for the $1,000 bonus, applicants needed to do three things:

Keep the full-time job for eight consecutive weeks, which Lavigne did.

Not receive unemployment during that eight-week period. Bruce says he did that.

And have filed an unemployment claim with the state for the week prior to May 30. Bruce did not do that because he watched Gov. Lamont say the program started on the 24th.

“It had the date of the 24th,” Lavigne said.

During his news conference on May 17, Lamont said “Starting on Monday, Connecticut’s going to offer you a $1,000 signing bonus.”

Lavigne thought the “Monday” Lamont was referring to was the 24th, the Monday after that news conference.

The Channel 3 I-Team asked the Dept. of Revenue and the governor’s office if the program was pushed back a week.

They said the date was always May 30, pointing out the application.

It’s also on a press release sent out on the same day as the news conference.

The 30th is also on the website that lays out the criteria.

So it seems that an incorrect date was presented just one time, but it happened to be during that news conference that was broadcast live on nearly all local stations.

Lavigne said he was counting on that date.

“Here’s the confusing part on that. Why wasn’t I notified? At least if I’m qualified for this program and I’ve submitted and I’ve already got my application in and you’ve received my credentials, why didn’t you notify me that it was changed, five, six days later, whatever the date was,” Lavigne said.

The state is no longer taking applications and the I-Team asked how many applicants, like Bruce, started their jobs prior to the 30th and won’t be getting their $1,000 bonus.

They said, “DRS is wrapping up reviews for those identified as not meeting one or more of the eligibility requirements, and will soon issue formal notification (via letter) to those individuals.”

“I want to see the Governor’s Office honor all those applications that were submitted,” Lavigne said.

Over the phone, the I-Team asked the governor’s Early Applicants Office and the Dept. of Revenue point blank if they would honor Lavigne’s application. They said it wasn’t valid.

Bruce is now left feeling like he’s being punished for being a week too early.

“So what if it was six, eight or 10 days? Is that really going to make a difference, I don’t think so,” Lavigne said.

If you’re someone who applied early, based on the governor’s news conference, you may not be getting a check and you should expect a letter confirming that soon.

If you did apply within the dates listed on the application and still didn’t get a check, don’t worry. The state sends out the checks at the end of each month and less than half have gone out so it could take some time.

Copyright 2021 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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