After weeks of uncertainty, states have started moving ahead with their version of the stimulus check. With federal stimulus checks drying up, it is left to the states to help their residents from the high inflation rates that threaten to pull millions back into the despair of poverty that they faced during the initial days of the pandemic.
The three rounds of stimulus checks from the federal government spread out over more than a year brought immediate relief. The administration was not prepared for another phase of emergency in the form of record inflation rates that threaten to again derail the economy.
With inflation inching closer to the double-figure mark, people began to despair as prices of gas, essential commodities, and utilities went up rapidly. The inflation rate touched a 4-decade record at the turn of the year.
State Stimulus Checks Have Varied In Amount, Form, And Delivery Method
Most states have a healthy surplus as the last two quarters have been exceptionally strong economically as people have funds in hand and jobs opened up. But the strong demand in the face of a supply bottleneck created a huge shortage of goods and contributed to the inflation rate. The war in Europe has further complicated matters as the decision to shut out Russian oil has backfired on the US and its allies.
Each state has decided on its version of stimulus check which has varied in delivery method and the amount to e given as relief payments. The payment platforms differ across states starting from direct stimulus checks through transfers and paper checks. Then there are the tax rebates, and gas and transit debit cards that are preloaded with the required amounts.
Maine First State To Legislate On Direct Stimulus Check For Residents
Maine is among the first states to get off the mark. Checks from the state are going out in the mail this week and should start reaching residents by this week. Around 858,000 Mainers will receive their stimulus check of $850 for each individual.
The Dept. of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) issued 5,000 stimulus checks initially through the US Postal Services. Following that, DAFS will send around 200,000 stimulus checks every subsequent week.
The administration has said that most qualifying residents who have already filed their income tax returns for 2021 will automatically receive their stimulus check by the middle of July. There was an initial hiccup when the Treasurer’s office faced a shortfall of stimulus checks, but that has since been resolved.
Maine is giving out over half of the budget surplus enjoyed by the state through these stimulus checks. Governor Janet Mills said in a statement that hardworking Mainers had their budget stretched thin by the high rate of inflation. She said that while the administration could do nothing to bring down the rate of inflation internationally, they could make sure that they would have what they needed to tackle these rising costs.
Gov. Mills said that through the cooperation of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, and hard work, she was proud to declare that help was on hand. She hoped that these stimulus checks would provide some measure of relief during these desperate times.
She said she realized that Mainers are feeling the effect of rising prices on all fronts and to counter that the state was delivering the strongest relief measures in the country. The State Treasurer Henry Beck said that his office was glad to see that people were getting these stimulus checks at the earliest.
Residents who have filed their returns for 2021 and have earnings of $100,000 or less as individuals and $200,000 or below as married couples filing jointly are eligible for the relief check.
Residents have until October 31 to file their returns. Those who file later will receive the payment on a rolling basis.
Push From Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
The latest proposal will provide families in Pennsylvania with a check of $2,000. Households earning $80,000 or less will qualify. Gov. Wolf and lawmakers in the state are in the final and busiest stretch. With billions of extra dollars to spread around, it has been a particularly uncommon situation for the state that has largely been mired in deficits ever since the Great Recession.
Pennsylvania also continues to struggle with a shrinking workforce and a rapidly growing elderly population. Wolf is into his last year in office and has started the budget season this February with a proposal worth $43.7B to the legislature that is controlled by the opposition Republicans.
Tom Wolf is campaigning on a request for around $1.8B, or about a fifth more, for expenditure on public schools that include instruction, special education, and operation. He has been persistent in his campaign to remove the deep disparity in funding between the poorest and the richest public school districts.
The GOP budget priorities will hinge on how much Republicans are willing to approve of his demands for relief payments to public schools.
Among Wolf’s proposals is his suggestion to send a $2,000 stimulus check to some residents of Pennsylvania. Families with an income of $80,000 and less will get the relief payment. The PA Opportunity program would allocate $500M of the excess from the ARPA money towards helping families. Republicans continue to be critical of the plan and believe it could worsen the inflation rate.
New Mexicans Could Get The First Round Of Economic Relief Payment Soon
New Mexico’s Governor said that residents who have filed their income tax returns for 2021 will receive a $250 stimulus check as individuals and joint filers will receive double that amount.
Those who have filed their returns do not have to do anything extra and the payment will come in the form of a transfer to bank accounts or paper check according to the mode chosen in the tax return.
New Yorkers Will Get A One-Time Stimulus Check Payment
Federal funding of $64M will be used to provide a one-off stimulus check to New Yorkers struggling with high costs across sectors. The payments will benefit struggling residents including those with children residing in multi-generational households and also domestic violence survivors.
The one-off payment has been set aside to pay for the cost of food, for both adults and children, and help in providing relocation assistance for domestic violence survivors and providing housing.
Around 128,500 struggling families and 150,000 children are expected to benefit.