Last Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved a $3.82 billion package that aims to spend billions in federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act.
This package would create a “premium pay program” that would “provide direct financial support to essential workers, in an amount of not less than $500 and not more than $2,000 for each eligible essential workers.”
Overall, $500 million would be used for the bonuses for low and middle-income workers, and another half billion for the state unemployment insurance trust fund.
Gov. Charlie Baker also said that he’s generally supportive of the “premium pay program,” saying that “this is something that is the right thing to do.”
Eligible workers must have worked in person during the state of emergency that began on March 10, 2020 and lasted for more than a year. Their household income must not be more than 300% of the federal poverty level.
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“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,” House Speaker Ron Mariano said.
The bill states:
“The recommendations shall prioritize lower-income essential workers who performed essential duties in-person since the start of the state of emergency declared by the governor on March 10, 2020.
The panel shall also consider factors including, but not limited to, an essential worker’s increased financial burden and increased risk of exposure to the 2019 novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, due to the nature of their work and any bonuses or hazard pay a worker has already received for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic and the amount thereof.”
The payments would go out no later than Jan. 31, 2022, according to the bill.
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