Welcome to a new week – for most of us the second full week of being remote from our routines and surrounded by COVID-19 fears and insecurities. Government continues to move at a blistering pace in response but not without, apparently, some typical speedbumps.
Highlights in today’s digest are the federal stimulus bill, federal (but not yet state) tax return deadlines, unemployment assistance and student loan repayment suspensions. And we pause to honor a legend in our world, Larry Rasky.
- An economic stimulus bill totaling $1.8 trillion, failed to advance from a procedural vote in the Senate on Sunday. Senate Democrats blocked the stimulus bill saying it favors big business and does not provide enough protections for workers. The partisan 47-47 vote, was shy of the 60 votes needed to advance, leaving the future of the stimulus package uncertain. While talks are ongoing, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi indicated that House may draft their own response.
- The Federal tax deadline has officially moved from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. In a statement released Friday morning, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who previously deferred tax payments for 90 days, said this new deadline comes at the request of President Trump. Nothing has been said for Massachusetts tax deadline.
- The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance is hosting a series of virtual town hall meetings to help those applying for unemployment benefits. The town hall is offered both online and over the phone and in Spanish and English.
- President Trump allowed borrowers to suspend student loan payments for two months on federal student loans. The suspension of payments does not wipe away debt and it won’t be automatic. A borrower must contact their loan servicer and request that their loans be put in forbearance. The U.S. Department of Education said it hasdirected loan servicers to grant forbearance to anyone with a federal loan who requests one. Additionally, all borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to zero for at least 60 days.
- Massachusetts legislative leaders are hard at work on a two separate but equally time sensitive bills. The first will allow municipalities to postpone local elections and four special elections set for March 31, 2020. The second will create a crucial safety net to protect renters and homeowners from evictions and foreclosures.
- More than 600 early education centers, school age providers and 43 family childcare systems are closed today. Last Wednesday, Gov. Baker issued an emergency order temporarily close all early education providers across the state. On Saturday, the state published a list that can be found here, of more than 300- center-based and home based providers that will operate on an emergency drop-in basis. The need for childcare for first responders and essential personnel is critical.
- Larry Rasky passed away over the weekend. A giant among Democrats across the country, Larry was a 30-year confidant of Vice President and presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden. He served as the chairman of his firm Rasky Partners and is survived by his wife Carolyn and son Will. I know I speak for the entire team at Melwood Global when I say our thoughts and prayers are with Carolyn and Will at this difficult time.