On Friday March 27th, the federal government passed a $2 trillion stimulus package, also known as the CARES Act, to help combat the effects of COVID-19. I wanted to provide a summary of what was included. Please feel free to reach out with any questions regarding this bill.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ($260 BILLION)
- Full paycheck replacement: $600 increase for every American for unemployment benefits, which equates to 100 percent of wages for the average American without a paycheck struggling through the Crisis.
- Waiving waiting fees: Gets money in people’s pockets sooner by providing federal incentives for states to eliminate waiting weeks. (Massachusetts has already done this).
- Extension of benefits: An additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits are immediately made available.
- Expanding access: Allow part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers to access UI benefits. If you fit into this category, do not apply yet. The MA Department of Unemployment is still determining what can be distributed and anticipates that it will be ready to accept applications in this category in a few days.
INCREASED DIRECT PAYMENT TO WORKING AMERICANS
- $1,200 direct payment to each working-class American; up to $2,400 for married couples.
- An additional $500 cash payment is available per child.
- The full payment is available for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (married).
- The value begins decreasing and then phases out completely for those making over the full payment income cap.’
- These payments will be based off of your 2018 or 2019 tax returns and will either be deposited straight into your account or mailed to you.
SMALL BUSINESS RESCUE PLAN ($377 BILLION)
- $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and nonprofits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
- $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs.
- $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.
MARSHALL PLAN FOR OUR HEALTH SYSTEMS ($150 BILLION)
- Equipment and infrastructure: Personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, emergency operation centers and more.
- Enhanced Health Investments: Additional funding is also dedicated to delivering Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis, and new investments in our country’s Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity and medical research into COVID-19.
STATE AND LOCAL CORONAVIRUS EXPENDITURE FUNDS
- $150 billion, with a small-state minimum of $1.25 billion
- Tribal set-aside of $8 billion
EMERGENCY APPROPRIATIONS ($330 BILLION)
- $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile supplies of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which are distributed to State and local health agencies, hospitals and other healthcare entities facing shortages during emergencies.
- $1 billion for the Defense Production Act to bolster domestic supply chains, enabling industry to quickly ramp up production of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other urgently needed medical supplies, and billions dollars more for federal, state, and local health agencies to purchase such equipment.
- $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including for the purchase of personal protective equipment; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus; and other public health preparedness and response activities.
- $45 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, more than doubling the available funding, to provide for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as private non-profits performing critical and essential services, to protect citizens and help them recover from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19. Reimbursable activities may include medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, safety measures, and community services nationwide.
- $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions.
- $25 billion in aid to our nation’s transit systems to help protect public health and safety while ensuring access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services.
- $10 billion in grants to help our nation’s airports as the aviation sector grapples with the most steep and potentially sustained decline in air travel in history.
- $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.
- More than $7 billion for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs. This funding will help low-income and working class Americans avoid evictions and minimize any impacts caused by loss of employment, and child care, or other unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19, and support additional assistance to prevent eviction and for people experiencing homelessness
- More than $6.5 billion in Federal funding for CDBG, the Economic Development Administration, and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help mitigate the local economic crisis and rebuild impacted industries such as tourism or manufacturing supply chains.
- $400 million in election assistance for the states to help prepare for the 2020 election cycle, including to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more pollworkers.
- $2 billion in funding to strengthen response capacity and support tribal governments:
- $1.03 billion to the Indian Health Service to support tribal health care system response efforts;
- $100 million more for the USDA Food Distribution Program for Indian Reservations
- $453 million to assist tribes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs;
- $69 million to help tribal schools, colleges and universities through for the Bureau of Indian Education;
- and $300 million more to the HUD Indian Tribal Block Grant program.
- $1 billion to recapitalize Amtrak after steep ridership declines related to the outbreak. This will keep thousands of Amtrak employees employed, and ensure America’s intercity passenger rail stays on track, continuing service in the Northeast and nationwide.
STUDENT LOAN RELIEF
- To alleviate the pressure of student loan costs during this crisis, Senate Democrats fought for the inclusion of tax relief encouraging employers to implement student loan repayment programs. This provision will exclude up to $5,250 in qualifying student loan repayments paid by the employer on behalf of the employee from income for income tax purposes.