Dems Wants State To Provide $600 Jobless Benefit

A Bronx Democrat wants New York state to institute its own $600 a week unemployment benefit for the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Jamaal Bailey, D-Bronx, has introduced S.8972 to respond to ongoing gridlock in Washington, D.C., on the next round of federal COVID-19 stimulus legislation. President Donald Trump issued an executive order for $300 in additional federal benefits that New York has chosen to accept, but in Pennsylvania that aid only provided additional benefits for six weeks.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to decimate the economy and with the expiration of the federal government’s $600 benefit, New York must do more to ensure residents can pay their bills and put food on the table,” Bailey wrote in his legislative justification. “While Washington gridlock prevents an extension of the mu h needed benefit, this legislation would ensure that New Yorkers continue to receive adequate unemployment benefits.”

Bailey proposes to pay for the additional unemployment benefits with any future federal emergency relief funds or with money from the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund. Paying for the legislation with state money, however, would seem to be impossible since the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund ran out of money earlier this year, prompting the state to borrow $1.1 billion from the federal government to pay for unemployment.

Bailey’s legislation was introduced shortly after the latest attempt at a federal stimulus package dissolved in Washington, D.C. On Monday, the Problem Solvers Caucus, co-chaired by Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, and Josh Gotteheimer, D-New Jersey, unveiled its own bi-partisan stimulus proposal.

The measure calls for spending $1.523 trillion in new money, but the price tag could increase roughly $400 billion in February and March depending on how the country is doing in its fight against the pandemic.

And if the US is seeing a decline in Covid-19 hospitalizations and making progress towards a vaccine, the price tag could drop roughly $200 billion.

The package would direct $100 billion to health care programs, including $25 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing. It would provide $500 billion for state and local governments — to help pay for lost revenue caused by the pandemic and costs associated with outbreak response.

It would provide an additional $145 billion for schools and childcare, $15 billion for the US Postal Service, and $290 billion for small businesses, including another round for the popular Paycheck Protection Program.

It would also include $400 million to help states bolster the November elections.

The measure also incorporates another round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals under a certain income threshold, with an additional $500 per child, while extending the federal eviction moratorium and providing rental assistance up to $25 billion.

Under the plan, unemployed workers could be eligible for federal jobless benefits for eight weeks at $450 per week. The unemployment benefits would transition up to $600 per week, similar to the level that expired in July, but it would cap the amount to ensure people aren’t being paid more than their lost income.


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