by Jim Bea Sampaga
In Dec. 27, President Donald Trump signed the $900 billion stimulus bill into law providing another round of funding to support the U.S. economy.
Similar to the first COVID-19 stimulus package, this second stimulus bill will provide direct cash payments to individuals, unemployment benefits, rent assistance and small business loans.
The bill will also provide more funding for schools and measures in delivering the COVID-19 vaccines throughout the country.
At least $1.7 billion of the stimulus package will go towards Hawaii for funding. “Help is on the way,” says U.S. Senator Brian Schatz in a press release. “It will provide more money for businesses, and give our state, hospitals, and health care providers more resources to distribute the vaccine and fight this pandemic. While it’s not enough, and we still have more work to do, this will provide help immediately.”
Here’s a quick rundown of key provisions in the second COVID-19 stimulus package:
A one-time $600 cash payment will be made to millions of qualified individuals who earn less than $75,000. Joint filers who earn less than $150,000 will get $1,200 and those with children will receive an additional $600 per child.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries are also eligible for the stimulus checks. Unlike the first stimulus package, direct payment to households with mixed immigration status are now eligible.
An estimated $700 million is going towards Hawaii residents’ stimulus checks.
To extend the unemployment insurance, at least an estimated $200 million will go to helping unemployed Hawaii workers including those who are self-employed, part-time works, independent contractors and gig workers.
The aid will cover salaries up to around $65,000 for three months with an additional $300 per week.
“[The bill includes] formal guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, funding allotments and IT programming changing, among others,” added Anne Perreira-Eustaquio, Director of Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Rent Relief and Eviction Ban
An estimated $200 million will go towards helping Hawaii’s renters who lost their job or reduction in income due to the pandemic to pay their rent.
At least 90% of the funding must go towards paying of future rent, back rent, utilities and home energy bills and related housing expenses. While the remaining 10% will be used for housing counseling and other stability services.
The stimulus package will also provide a 30-day extension of the CDC’s current eviction moratorium to Jan. 31, 2021.
Additionally, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands will receive $2.4 million.
Small Business Loans
An allotted $325 billion will go toward small businesses, including restaurants, hotels, live venues, and non-profits, throughout the country.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will receive $284 billion to loan small businesses and non-profits to maintain their existing employees and help pay for other expenses such as rent, mortgage and utilities.
PPP also expands its eligibility for non-profits, local newspapers, and TV and Radio broadcasters.
$20 billion will go towards Small Business Administration emergency grant advances up to $10,000 to provide immediate operating costs relief for small businesses. $15 billion are for grants to independent live venue operators, including eligible independent movie theaters and museums.
The newly-signed stimulus package includes new provisions to support K-12 schools, colleges and universities that Senator Mazie Hirono successfully advocated for.
“This legislation includes provisions I have worked on to strengthen and expand the federal Pell Grant program, which will improve college affordability for lower-income students. It also includes funding to support K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and early childhood providers,” Sen. Hirono said.
Hawaii K-12 schools will receive $183.6 million to address the learning loss for at-risk marginalized students through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF). $56.8 million will provide support for Hawaii higher education institutions and their students.
An estimated $4.4 million for Hawaii in the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund to provide schools and higher education institutions with emergency assistant funding.
Additionally, at least $20 million will go towards supporting Native Hawaiian Serving institutions.
COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing and Contact Tracing
The new bill provides $150 million to funding Hawaii’s capacity for COVID-19 testing, surveillance and contact tracing activities. Moreover, the state will receive $35 million to help distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines.
by Jim Bea Sampaga