HELP IS ON THE WAY
On Wednesday, The House of Representatives passed the final version of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus package. This massive package helped fulfill Democrats’ promises that they made during their campaign. President Biden was very grateful after the divided Senate approved the relief plan on Saturday. “When we took office 45 days ago, I promised the American people that help was on the way,” Biden said. “Today I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise.”
This coronavirus package, The American Rescue Plan, has been massively prioritized by the Biden administration. The financial assistance is set to go to individuals, families, businesses, and schools that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Specific measures are $1,400 direct payments, an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits, an increase to child tax credit, support for state and local governments, public health efforts and schools.
President Biden made it clear that The American Rescue Plan needed to happen as soon possible. He stressed this urgency by noting the more than 500,000 American lives lost to COVID-19, hundreds of small businesses closed, millions of people out of work, and families struggling to afford rent and food. He also stated that stimulus checks will be distributed “this month,” along with resources for vaccine manufacturing and distribution along with the schools, unemployed individuals, and local governments.
The Congressional Budget Office released their “Estimated Budget Effects of The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021”, which shows a deeper look into what exactly the $1.9 trillion will be going towards. The $1,400 stimulus checks going to individuals is expected to cost $424 billion, the greatest chunk out of the total. Other major portions include $350 billion going to state and local government aid to prevent layoffs and service cuts, $246 billion to unemployment insurance, and $219 billion towards tax credits, aid, and child care for families. President Biden has said many times that the support of the American people has been “the key” to The American Rescue Plan being successful.
Stimulus checks are available to individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less and couples with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less. This is estimated to be about 90% of tax filers. The bill also extends federal unemployment insurance benefits through September 6th and increases the current child tax credit for 2021. The idea is that the stimulus checks should give individuals extra funds to spend, in an effort to boost the economy that has been hurt due to the pandemic.
Another one of The American Rescue Plan’s big subjects is to aid local and state governments to prevent layoffs and service cuts. Over the past year, 22 states have cut a combined $1.9 billion in funding for higher education. Public colleges and universities have had to lay off 304,600 workers in result of those cuts and other revenue losses. The funding in The American Rescue Plan could go a long way toward limiting additional cuts to higher education if the states use the money wisely. This funding will also hopefully limit cuts and layoffs to local government affiliated establishments.
Staying with the topic of education, Olympia Superintendent, Dr. Laura O’Donnell, told me about how the school district will use the additional funding. Some of these uses include paying teachers for the support of remote learning students, funding the online learning available for families that chose that this year, purchasing face masks, cleaning supplies and materials needed to meet COVID-19 guidelines, funding for 1st-8th grade summer school in June, high school credit recovery options, HVAC upgrades to improve air circulation, and technology to ensure families have access to to devices and internet.
Dr. O’Donnell was positive in her regards that this extra money would be a great help, saying, “We are still working on details but this money will go a long way in helping us support student learning that has been impacted by the pandemic, and helping with additional PPE and building upgrades that are needed to be in alignment with post COVID recommendations. Without these additional funds, these things would not be feasible. Our normal operating budget could not support all of the aforementioned items.”
The American Rescue Plan has been in the works ever since January and it has finally been passed, 49 days after President Biden took office. The plan is set to help many different groups of people that have all been impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Another round of stimulus checks to help boost the economy, help to state and local governments, education, and several other causes being helped by this bill, made it worth passing for congress. As President Biden promised when he took office, help is on the way.