Essential workers in Louisiana who stayed on the job during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic will be eligible for an extra stimulus boost from the state. Beginning next week, they can apply for hazard pay, a one-time $250 check. Funding for the program comes from $50 million in federal funding Louisiana received through the CARES Act.
To be eligible for the $250 check, the applicant must have made $50,000 or less in 2019 and worked at least 200 hours between March 22 and May 14. The program is meant only for employees who worked in essential services, like transportation, health care and law enforcement, or worked at supermarkets at a time when the majority of Louisiana residents were asked to stay home, reports The Center Square. The program operates on a "first-come, first-served" basis, so only 200,000 who apply and meet the criteria will receive the payment, reports WBRZ.
The Louisiana Senate unanimously passed the hazard pay law on June 26, with the House passing it earlier this week. Residents are supposed to be able to apply to start next week, but it is not clear how the Louisiana Department of Revenue will handle applications, reports WBRZ. Still, those who put their lives on the line to work during the early days of the pandemic are looking forward to the extra help.
"Any little bit is going to be beneficial to everybody," Deona Cavalier, who works at a supermarket, told WBRZ. "I've seen nurses and doctors have been getting a little more compensation, and I think grocery store workers tend to be forgotten about. But we've been working too." Supermarket manager Blaise Calandro hopes more help will be available soon if the hazard pay is used up quickly. "If those funds go quickly, and we continue to deal with this as front-line workers for quite a while," she said.
The program will be paid using $50 million from $811 million in CARES Act relief Louisiana received, reports The Central Square. Half was taken from a $300 million grant program for businesses, while the remaining $25 million comes from a portion meant to compensate local governments' efforts to slow the virus.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law in March, included a national stimulus check program, which sent $1,200 to individual American taxpayers making $75,000 or less in 2018 or 2019. Since Americans began receiving the economic impact payments in mid-April, there has been an ongoing debate in Washington on what another stimulus check might look like. The House did pass a $3 trillion package that does include a second payment, but this is not going to be taken up by Republican Senators, who are working on their own plans.