With no more federal stimulus checks on the way, states have moved in to help out their residents as the high inflation rates make it difficult for low and moderate-income groups to provide for even the basic necessities.
The stimulus check was the only option for the federal administration to save millions of people from certain poverty when the pandemics were at their peak. People had no source of income and had used up their savings within a few weeks. Moreover, most people in these groups live paycheck-to-paycheck, and s disruption in pay even for a month was enough to push them into poverty.
Even as it became a struggle to put food on the table, the administration stepped in with a series of stimulus checks, three rounds to be precise. To this was added the extension of the unemployment benefits and the enhanced child tax credit stimulus check. Both these stimulus checks helped people out even as people have spent the third round of stimulus checks, the Economic Impact Payment under the American Rescue Plan Act.
But inflation rates started rising fast at the end of the last quarter in 2021 and prices of gas, groceries, and utilities rose on the back of fuel shortages, the war in Europe, and a supply chain logjam. States realized that residents needed support, and they needed it immediately. In the absence of any federal programs to help them out, they had to dip into their resources to help them out.
2021 has been a particularly good year as far as revenue goes for most states, and they are rolling in a huge surplus balance. Added to that are the funds from the state allocation of federal funds under the American Rescue Plan Act.
While some states have already taken legislative measures, other states are in the process of legislating state stimulus checks for their residents. While several states have decided to go in for a direct stimulus check, other states have proposed tax rebates, gas and transit cards, and tax waivers for gas, groceries, and utilities.
The individual States Begin To Send Stimulus Checks To Residents Starting in June
Around 300,000 low-earning essential workers in Massachusetts will begin receiving their second round of stimulus checks this week. The $500 payments are part of the Essential Employees premium program to help out workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stimulus check started going out starting June 6. The first set of stimulus checks was announced back in February this year and reached around 480,000 people in March. Around $165M in stimulus checks is going out to an estimated 330,000 eligible residents in June.
The Massachusetts essential workers’ bonus will be based on the 2021 state returns. Workers who have made at least $13,500 and have a total income that is 300% below the poverty level would be eligible for this stimulus check.
This level is $38,640 for a household of one. For a family of four that comes to $79,500. Residents who received unemployment benefits or who receive the first round stimulus check are not eligible for this stimulus check.
Governor Jared Polis of Colorado has announced a $400 stimulus check for taxpaying Coloradans in August or September. The stimulus is available for full-time residents who have filed their 2021 returns by May 31. Around 3.1M residents are eligible for this rebate.
The state wants to extend much-needed support to individuals and families through direct relief to taxpayers. The state has seen a strong economic recovery and has experienced a 100% recovery rate of jobs lost during the pandemic and an unemployment rate of 3.7. It has led to a record surplus for Colorado.
Democratic Majority Leader Daneya Esgar said that refunding the $400-$800 stimulus check to all taxpayers will immediately help the middle-class families and workers who are faced with the high cost of living caused by the record inflation. She said that people are being forced to work harder to survive and said that the administration is taking action by making the state tax code fairer.
Other measures to return the surplus to taxpayers are a reduction in the income tax rate, homestead exemption for seniors, a dividend to be declared by the state, and a 6-tier rebate in sales tax for next year.
Meanwhile, the Tom Wolf administration in Pennsylvania continues to push for a $2,000 stimulus check for residents. The acting secretary of human services has called on lawmakers to pass the bill to enable the relief payment.
The PA Opportunity Program is projected to be a big help as prices rise for everything from groceries to gas and utilities. This opportunity has been termed by the Wolf administration as an investment in caring for people.
The administration would fall back on federal funds received under the American Rescue Plan Act to send the payments to state residents. Households with an income below $80,000 would be eligible.
The Wolf administration has let on that while the ruling Democratic leaders have moved forward both in the House and Senate to make this stimulus check a reality, Republican opposition leaders leading the General Assembly have slowed down progress. If lawmakers do not move in now, the money received under ARPA will go back to the federal government after 2024.
Maine Has Been Among The First States To Legislate On State Stimulus Checks
Residents of Maine are among the lucky ones to be getting their stimulus check in June. The individual check will come to $850 while married couples filing jointly will get $1,700.
The governor of Maine, Janet Mills, signed a $1.2B budget into law to fund the stimulus check. Relief payments have become more targeted after the Economic Impact Payments last year under ARPA.
Governor Mills has used the budget surplus and returned part of the excess money to residents. The Governor’s office said that an estimated 858,000 residents of Maine who are grappling with the increased costs of living will benefit. The pandemic-driven economic downturn has caused inflation to be especially hard on citizens and people of even moderate-income are finding it tough to meet expenses and are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
The Maine stimulus checks starting in June will initially go out to residents who have filed their 2021 state income tax returns. They will then be delivered on a rolling basis as more residents file their returns before the last date on October 31 this year.