In the absence of more federal stimulus checks, we have seen several states and cities come up with their own stimulus payments. Now, if new proposed legislation is approved, we could see coronavirus stimulus checks from Massachusetts.
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On Monday, the House and Senate leaders proposed legislation to set aside about 10% of the $4.8 billion that the state got from the American Rescue Plan Act, for direct payments.
According to a report from The Boston Globe, the proposal commits about $40 million for direct payments. The payments, ranging from between $500 and $2,000, would go to "front-line state employees" who worked during the 2020 and 2021 winter seasons. A similar proposal previously came from Governor Charlie Baker.
Massachusetts has about 800,000 front-line workers, but it isn’t known how many would actually be eligible for the bonus. As per the Boston Foundation, over 50% of the 800,000 frontline workers work in health care and may earn more than the proposed income limit.
So, it could mean that a larger payment would go to a smaller group of people. However, if all these front-line workers get the same amount of money, then each would get around $575.
Who Will Be Eligible?
As per the text of the bill released earlier this week, the coronavirus stimulus checks from Massachusetts would go to essential workers with a household income of up to 300% of the federal poverty level.
On the basis of current poverty levels, the 300% condition means those with an annual income of $38,640 or a family of four with an income of $79,500.
Moreover, the proposal says that the state’s Executive Office for Administration and Finance would be responsible for coming up with further eligibility requirements for the essential workers. The priority, as per the legislation, would be given to low-income essential workers.
“We didn’t want to make it overly generous,” House Speaker Ronald Mariano said, according to the Boston Globe. “We wanted to benefit the folks who stayed at their post through the whole pandemic — the folks who worked in the nursing homes, that drove the buses, that worked in the supermarkets.”
The proposed legislation could be up for a vote in the House sometime later this week. After that, it would be sent to the Senate for approval. Once the legislation wins all the approvals, the payments would go out no later than the end of January.
The proposed legislation enjoys the support of Democratic leaders in the House, as well as in the Senate. Charlie Baker, the Republican governor, is waiting for more details on the legislation, but he “conceptually” supports the idea of giving direct payments.
The Baker administration came up with a similar program earlier this summer. Under the program, thousands of front-line state government employees got a one-time payment of $2,000.