Today’s update is going to focus mainly on emerging proposals for a fourth stimulus bill. The list of items more individual payments, payroll security, state & local government funds, healthcare and front line “hazard” pay, additional testing, and infrastructure improvements. The next bill is expected to rival the $2 trillion CARES Act.
CARES Act 2 / Phase 4 possibilities
The first proposal calls for every American age 16 and older making less than $130,000 annually to receive at least $2,000 per month for at least six months. Married couples earning less than $260,000 would receive at least $4,000 per month. The payments would continue until employment returns to pre-coronavirus levels.
Another proposal calls for the federal government to cover 80% of wages for workers at any U.S. business, up to the national median wage, until the coronavirus crisis is over. Businesses would be eligible for a bonus if they rehire workers laid off over the past month.
Under yet another proposal, all employers whose monthly revenue has dropped at least 20% would be eligible for federal grants to cover a portion of payroll and benefits for at least six months.
A recent bill filed would set up a $500 billion fund to help states and local governments respond to the health and economic crisis while maintaining essential services. The money would be divided into three portions and distributed based upon population, the number of coronavirus cases and revenue losses.
Health care workers battling the coronavirus might get “hazard pay” in the next package.
The money could come in the form of bonuses through a plan to increase pay for essential workers, including those in the health care field, in sanitation and at grocery stores. The fund would increase pay up to $25,000, or $13 an hour, from the start of the crisis to the end of the year.
A total of $30 billion would be needed to rapidly expand coronavirus testing in the country. Some of the money would be used to produce more test kits, supplies, and the development of new tests.
Lastly, do we finally see a bill to fix the nation’s roads, bridges, and broadband?
Workers’ Comp update
A lawsuit has been filed in Springfield. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association asked the court to block rules recently adopted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The rules require that workers’ comp benefits be given to those who fall ill with the coronavirus and are working because Gov. Pritzker has deemed their job necessary.
“This case is not about the wisdom of the substantive new law expressed by the commission. This case is about the commission far exceeding its rule-making authority,” Scott Cruz, an attorney for the two groups, said in a statement. “The substantive law of Illinois, and the wisdom of implementing it, is for the Legislature, after proper discourse, and not the whim of the commission.” Added Cruz, “At a time when many are waiting for relief from the federal and state government in an effort to make payroll and retain workers, they will now be forced to pay for additional medical and salary costs regardless of whether an employees’ illness was contracted outside of the workplace.”
State Pension Relief
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he favors allowing states struggling with high public employee pension costs amid the burdens of the pandemic response to declare bankruptcy rather than giving them a federal bailout. “I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” he said Wednesday. “It’s saved some cities, and there’s no good reason for it not to be available. There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.” We will see how this plays out as a few individuals and groups have already come out against this idea as massive repercussions may result.
COVID-19 Impact Survey
Do not forget about our member survey to gather feedback on the impact that the Coronavirus has had on organizations. During this unprecedented time, share how your organization has been impacted. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2X3QYL7
Finally, as a reminder, we have put together our COVID-19 resource page. The page on our website includes an archive of all the email updates, useful resource documents, and more. Click here to go to the page: https://jolietchamber.com/2020/03/covid-19/
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry