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Friday, October 7, 2022

Close To A Dozen States Move Ahead With State Stimulus Checks: Inflation Continues To Hurt Citizens Hard

As Americans enter the third year of the pandemic, they have realized that they have seen the last of direct federal stimulus checks. And they can expect no further federal aid for now. With inflation reaching 4-decade old high figures, it appears that only direct support from states will bring some respite to citizens at this stage.

Low and moderate-income households received around $817 billion in federal stimulus checks sent directly to their home as paper checks or direct transfers to bank accounts since March 2020. The money went out in 3 rounds and the last round started going out in spring 2021.

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The first round of payments was worth $1,000 max while the second round was for $600 and was sent in December 2020. The third check was declared immediately after President Biden came to power and was the most generous of the three stimulus checks. It gave a maximum of $1,400 to individuals and families with each member of the family getting an identical amount.

Each round had different parameters for qualification. But lawmakers did not put extra limitations on the checks so that the cash went out as fast as possible. Americans earning below $75,000 got the full amount of the stimulus checks. A four-member family got as much as $10,000 or more each.

Stimulus Checks Followed By Other Benefits

Despite the end of the stimulus checks, the millions of jobless had at least the boosted unemployment benefits to look forward to. These weekly stimulus checks were extended by several months to September 6, 2021. The amount included a $300 boost to their weekly payments.

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The federal government also expanded jobless benefits to freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors, self-employed people, and other groups affected by the pandemic. It also extended the duration of payments for those who exhausted their regular state benefits.

Another significant amount of federal support went out to parents with eligible families receiving a total of close to $93 billion in monthly installments as part payment of their child tax credit payments. These stimulus checks went out in monthly payments of between $250 and $300 depending on the age of the child.

The last installment of the monthly payments stopped with the payment on December 15, 2021. This enhanced child tax credit stimulus check payment was also part of the American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Biden. Lawmakers had expected to extend it by another year under the Build Back Better package but had to back out after stiff opposition from the Republicans.

Families received the other half of the CTC stimulus check after they submitted their 2021 income tax return this year. In total, the expanded credit provided up to $3,600 for each child below six and $3,000 for children aged between six and seventeen.

Also, more low-income parents became eligible for the full amount because it was made refundable by the administration. Earlier it was only partially refundable and had left over 26 million children unable to access the entire credit as many families had too low income and did not file income tax returns, according to the Treasury Department.

State Stimulus Checks Only Hope In Absence Of Federal Support

Over a dozen states have announced stimulus checks to offset the record inflation that has hit America with June figures rising to 9.1%. around 60,000 Florida families are expected to receive the stimulus checks announced by Governor Ron DeSantis. It was announced on July 15 as a way to offset the record inflation. It will be funded by using federal money from the ARPA funds signed by President Biden.

Conservative politicians have attacked the Republican Governor for handing out money to people. Fox Business host Daen McDowell has slammed the Governor for sending the $450-per-child stimulus check to the families and has accused him of pandering.

He said that it was a level of ‘moronacy’ that was expected from someone like the Democratic Governor of California, Gavin Newsom. He said that the government was expecting to fight inflation by further fueling inflation with these stimulus checks.

But the move by the Florida Governor was defended by his deputy press secretary, Bryan Griffin.  He said that payments would go on to benefit foster families, who are also eligible for the stimulus checks. He said that the ARPA funds would be ‘wasted’ if they were not utilized by the state government. He meant that it would revert to the federal government if it was not used by 2024.

DeSantis’s camp has also clarified that the Governor remained steadfast in his position that these stimulus checks were causing rampant inflation and he continued to fight against more such measures.

DeSantis’s administration has clarified that the payments were specifically for foster care families and the money was repurposed federal dollars that would have to be utilized or would have been lost to Biden. A spokesperson further

Stimulus Checks Could Have Caused Inflation Say Experts

Conservatives have consistently come down heavily on the stimulus checks, especially the third federal check and subsequent relief measures. They have alternatively termed the stimulus check as targeted relief which merely handed out free money at the time inflation was running at a 40-year high.

They have termed it as bad economic policy and extra welfare.

But the eligible recipients of the Florida stimulus checks include relative and non-relative caregivers, foster parents, and families who receive funds from the Florida Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program or the Guardianship Assistance Program.

California Stimulus Check Details

California has also announced its stimulus check rather late and will provide direct payments of up to $1,050 for a family of at least three. The payments will go out to 23 million Californians, around 60% of the state residents.

A joint statement released by Governor Gavin Newsom and other leading politicians has informed that the budget will address California’s most pressing needs and prioritize getting the dollars back to the Californians.

He said that residents were grappling with the effect of global inflation and high prices that have affected everything from food and other essential items to gasoline. Gas prices in California continue to remain among the highest in the country.

The complete inflation relief package announced by the state includes a temporary suspension of state diesel taxes and help with rent and utility costs.

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