The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package with direct aid going to many Americans, a huge boost in unemployment benefits, and aid going to larger business with direct oversight and reporting. There’s a lot in this bill that will have huge local impact so buckle up for a deep dive below.
Here in Massachusetts, Gov. Baker ordered all schools and childcare centers to stay closed until May 4, 2020. Many are worried about learning loss and the equity around providing services. And it’s fair to ask whether it’s right to ask parents to pay the bill for closed child-care centers.
Speaking of paying bills – will Massachusetts follow the federal government and delay the impending April 15th tax deadline?
Liquor stores are deemed essential, but cannabis stores are not – and many are calling on Gov. Baker to reconsider his order. The Massachusetts Veterans Project is leading the charge to reopen retail cannabis stores.
Three Massachusetts lawmakers are first hit by COVID-19: Congressman Seth Moulton and his family are in quarantine after experiencing mild symptoms, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley has been tested, and Stoneham state Rep. Mike Day is recovering from the virus.
- The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package, the largest in the history of the country, to slow the near catastrophic economic collapse due to COVID-19. The bill would send $1,200 per adult and $500 per child for American’s making $75,000 or less. The benefit would be smaller for individual taxpayers making over $75,000 (or $150,000 filing jointly) and disappear for those making $99,000 and above. Eligibility will be determined by taxpayer’s 2019 or 2018 tax returns. Like most things in Congress, the bill had some drama before it passed the Senate and look for more jockeying around key provisions right up through the final votes, which may happen Friday. For all the details of the stimulus package, click here. The legislation heads to the House of Representatives where they are expected to vote on it Friday morning.
- Schools across the Commonwealth are now closed until May 4th. Baker issued the order extending the original date by another week after confirmed COVID-19 cases doubled in one day across the state. Students, teachers and parents are struggling with varying degrees of connectivity and preparation as digital learning efforts get off the ground – with wide disparities reported in districts across the state. It’s not just schools impacted. Childcare center closures have also been extended through the first weekend of May, leaving many without childcare but still with the bill.
- With school shut down until May, increased fears surrounding equity take center stage. Still waiting on laptops, some Boston Public School students struggle to stay connected and engaged. Estimates suggest that at least 15 percent of the district’s 54,000 public school students do not have a laptop or computer at home. Know a BPS student in need of a Chromebook? Forward them this link or, better yet, sign them up. An estimated 16,000 of the 20,000 Chromebooks have yet to be claimed by and delivered to students.
- The Massachusetts Veterans Project is lobbying Gov. Baker to reconsider the closure of adult use cannabis facilities across the Commonwealth. Deemed nonessential, those facilities closed their doors Tuesday at noon. This does beg the question of how and why some stores are essential, like liquor stores, and others are classified nonessential – like adult use cannabis.
- Why won’t Massachusetts leaders extend the April 15th tax deadline like the Feds? The federal government announced last week they were extending the tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020 and municipalities may soon be able to extend their fourth quarter real estate deadlines. The Governor may not want to act but, as the deadline gets closer, local CPAs, families and businesses are going to apply more and more pressure to clarify.
- Election officials in both parties call for emergency funding to expand voting by mail. Across the country, dozens of state and local election officials, both Republican and Democratic, have expressed their desire for funds to expand absentee balloting and to take other steps to avoid pandemic-related chaos in November.
- Massachusetts lawmakers are not immune to COVID-19. Just in the last 24 hours, reports emerged of the reported testing of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, self-quarantine of Congressman Seth Moulton and the recent recovery of state Representative Mike Day of Stoneham.
- Anxiety is high across the country and isolation due to social distancing or self-quarantining is at an all-time high. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers helpful tips during this time of isolation.