5/6/20 COVID-19 Update

  • April tax collections plummet by $2.1 billion
  • Baker relaxes nonessential order for retailers to fulfill online orders
  • Stimulus checks proposed for undocumented workers
  • UMass Amherst Chancellor addresses graduation, fall opening
  • Universal mail-in voting could cost $30 million
  • Cannabis companies testify on the urgent need of a state Payroll Protection Program
  • Wednesday’s Silver Lining: F-15 Eagles to honor front line responders this afternoon

 

  1. April 2020’s tax collections fell $2.1 billion below projections and less than half of the $4.32 billion that was collected in April 2019. Sales tax revenue also dipped 23 percent below projections, reflecting a reluctance by people worried about losing their jobs – or who have lost them – to spend any money. April is typically the largest month of the year for tax receipts but with the personal income tax deadline moved to July 15th, the significant revenue gap is bound to have negative consequences on state programs.

 

  1. Governor Baker has eased restrictions for retail shops to allow for the fulfillment of online and phone orders as long as the businesses remain closed to potential walk-in customers. The remote fulfillment order does come with a set of strict guidelines, including adhering to social distancing, required temperature checks at the start of a shift and limiting the number of employees allowed in the store at one time. And, of course, everyone in public is still required to wear a mask as of this morning.

 

  1. State lawmakers are considering a plan to provide stimulus benefits to immigrant workers who are ineligible for the federal program. The program would require the Department of Revenue to provide checks of $1,200 to undocumented immigrants who work in the state and pay taxes with their taxpayer identification number but do not qualify for the federal program because they lack an assigned social security number.

 

  1. UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy addressed the UMass community virtually, where he discussed the Class of 2020’s commencement and the fall 2020 semester. The 2020 commencement, scheduled for Friday, will be the first to virtually graduate but Subbaswamy discussed to a future celebration when it is safe and the restrictions on large gatherings were lifted. As far as the fall semester, the Chancellor and his leadership team are planning for “all possibilities,” remote learning, in person, or a combination of both. A decision is anticipated by early summer.

 

  1. A proposed vote-by-mail program could cost the state anywhere from $12 million to $30 million, according to estimates by the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University. Secretary of State Bill Galvin and lawmakers continue to explore how to ensure voting access even if people shouldn’t be standing in line at polling places for the September 1 state primary and the November 3 state and national general election.

 

  1. Cannabis companies testified virtually yesterday on the need for a Massachusetts version of the Payroll Protection Program before the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business. Proposed by Senator Diana DiZoglio, chairwoman of the Committee and a Methuen Democrat, the bill would create a state-level emergency loan program similar to the federal PPP where loans turn to grants when companies use them to maintain their payroll through June.

 

  1. LOOK UP: Four F-15 Eagles from the 104th Fighter Wing of Massachusetts National Guard will take to the skies this afternoon in support for front line medical workers as part of Operation American Resolve. The jets will depart Westfield’s Barnes Air Force Base around noon, fly to Boston and loop back west over Worcester, Springfield and Northampton.
2020-05-11T10:39:59+00:00