Concerns plague Governor Charlie Baker in a Northeast region of the U.S. It is because he has yet to sign the $4 billion American Rescue Plan Act spending bill. It was passing by the Legislature last week. Yesterday, Baker said it wasn’t exactly the price tag, but, in fact, the ability to get some of those funds distributing quickly that have given him pause.
Concerns and Handing out Money to Essential Workers
One area of concern is the process for handing out bonuses between $500 and $2,000 for essential workers. They are in Boston, Massachusetts. They work in-person, also not remote, this was during the governor’s state of emergency. Actually, it did begin in March 2020. It did last for more than a year.
Plus, then set aside half a billion dollars is what the Legislature for that “Premium Pay” program is in the bill.
Just Getting Money out the Door
“There’s a 30-plus-member commission that needs to be established. Then figure out what to do around the premium pay,” Baker said. “We would really rather just go and put a premium pay program together. Then also get the dollars out the door to people.”
In fact, the panel is being tasking with actually deciding who will qualify for the program, and that is how much they should get.
There are eligible employees who may include health care, long-term care, and home care workers, childcare workers, educators, and education staff. Plus the farmworkers, grocery store workers, food production facility workers, social workers, transportation workers, utility workers, and technicians, and foster parents. Moreover, the household income is of those essential workers that should not then exceed 300% of the federal poverty level.
“Therefore, the panel shall also consider factors which include, but that is are not limiting to, an essential worker’s increased financial burden and due to the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. In fact, this would really be due to the nature of their work. Plus any bonuses or hazard pay. That a worker has, in fact, already received for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic and the amount thereof,” the legislation states.