Baker: First round of essential employee payments to be released | State

(The Center Square) – Governor Charlie Baker said the state of Massachusetts is preparing to administer the first round of payments through the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program.

The governor said the Payments will be mailed to 500,000 low-income workers by the end of March, kicking off the $460 million program supported by American Rescue Plan Act funds as part of the spending plan of the state that Baker signed into law in December 2021.

“This program will support workers who have served our communities, especially at the start of the pandemic,” Baker said in the statement.

The Baker administration developed eligibility metrics to ensure that funding is distributed quickly to the state’s workforce. Residents will be eligible for the payment if their income in 2020 reaches $12,750 and the income places them 300% below the federal poverty level, according to the statement.

The administration has established a formula for payments that equates to a part-time minimum wage worker working 20 hours a week for 50 weeks. The federal poverty line increases with family size. A single taxpayer with no dependents earning $38,280 would qualify for the payment program. Under the program, married taxpayers may be eligible, provided they qualify independently.

The program comes with exceptions. Taxpayers who received unemployment compensation in 2020 are not eligible to receive the first round of payments and employees in the executive branch are not eligible because they received or will receive a one-time payment from the state.

The Baker administration, according to the statement, will release more information about the next rounds of payments after March. The program includes $500 million for low-income essential workers, with $460 million representing the majority of the funds. The remaining $40 million was used for previous agreements with state employee unions.

Michelle J. Kelley