BOSTON (CBS) -- The Massachusetts House is out with a plan for how to spend billions in federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act, the State House News Service reported Monday. And one of the proposals inside the package calls for giving a bonus to essential workers who worked in-person throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill, if signed into law, would create a "premium pay program" that would "provide direct financial support to essential workers, in an amount of not less than $500 and not more than $2,000 for each eligible essential workers."
Guidelines for eligible essential workers have yet to be finalized, but the money is intended for those who worked "in person and not in a remote setting" during Gov. Charlie Baker's state of emergency that took effect March 10, 2020 and lasted more than a year. Eligible recipients would also need to have a household income that's at or below 300% of the federal poverty level.
The payments would go out no later than Jan. 31, 2022, according to the bill.
"We didn't want to make it overly generous," House Speaker Ron Mariano told The Boston Globe. "We wanted to benefit the folks who stayed at their post through the whole pandemic — the folks who worked in the nursing homes, that drove the buses, that worked in the supermarkets."
Overall, $500 million would be used for the bonuses for low and middle-income workers, and another half billion for the state unemployment insurance trust fund.
The bonuses could be a boost for essential workers in Massachusetts who may have been hoping that Congress would act on a fourth stimulus check, which now appears unlikely.
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