What the pandemic stimulus package means for Pennsylvania, New Jersey

Kristen Johanson
March 25, 2020 - 7:34 pm

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UPDATE: March 26, 6:43 a.m.: The bill passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate late Wednesday night. It now goes to the U.S. House, which is expected to pass it Friday.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The $2 trillion stimulus package would give money directly to taxpayers, expand unemployment benefits, support small businesses and aid hospitals throughout the Philadelphia-area. 

Every taxpayer making under $100,000 would get a check. If you make under $75,000, you will get a $1,200 check, which will be doubled for married couples, and then an additional $500 for each child.  Anyone above that would get less.

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That check would come as soon as next month, and lawmakers are trying to iron out ways to cut delays, such as depositing checks straight into the banks.

On a conference call with reporters, Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D) said the extra cash is “dollars in their pocket, which they badly need right now, just to pay for their next meal or a meal for their family.”

He also applauded efforts made to help small businesses.

U.S. senators on both sides also agreed to $377 billion aimed at keeping doors to small businesses open and money in employee pockets, essentially giving grant money through a ‘loan-forgiveness’ program.

“What it really means is the federal government is paying for the payroll of small businesses,” said Pennsylvania  U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R). “And that is intended to keep people on their payroll, to keep them associated with their business. Even if they can’t go to work, they are still on the payroll, in the hopes that this is brief, and they are able to go back to that company and back to that job when this is behind us.”

The loan process would likely go through area banks, in an effort to expedite the process for small businesses.

$25 billion will go into transportation, a concern for people in Pennsylvania, Casey said, as they are concerned about transit dollars and the money “would help them survive.”

But Casey said the bill is a start and he is hoping for more aid for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Medicare.

New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menedez pushed for additional grants to fund New Jersey small businesses so they can keep people on their payroll, and said a billion will go into the hospitals to test, treat and aid coronavirus patients and healthcare workers.

For some who were concerned about ‘big business bailout,’ Casey said there are measures in the package for industries like airlines and airports, but stricter transparency measures have been added than in prior recession bailouts.

As part of the bill, there would be a special ‘pandemic recovery’ inspector general and a response committee to oversee how the money is used and spent, in light of fraud surrounding the 2008 recession package.

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KYW Newsradio's Tim Jimenez contributed to this report.