With stimulus, help is on its way to you

April 1, 2020
By Rep. Darren Soto

The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented solution. To do my part, I took the risky journey back to the Capitol this past week to help the U.S. House of Representatives meet a quorum and cast my vote in favor of the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

With this landmark $2.2 trillion response and relief package passed, our message to Central Floridians and Americans in every corner of our country is: “Help is on the way.”

For individuals, help is on the way in the form of $1,200 checks for every American who makes up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 for married couples with a combined income of up to $150,000. Families will also receive an additional $500 for each child under 17 years of age. Americans who make $75,000-99,000 a year will be eligible for smaller checks, and those who make $99,000 or above a year will be ineligible.

Any American who filed their 2018 and/or 2019 tax return and has a Social Security number is eligible. Seniors receiving Social Security and unemployed veterans are also eligible. According to the U.S. Treasury, the checks should be delivered sometime in April and will be sent in the same manner as that taxpayer received their tax refund, either by direct deposit or check.

For those who lost their jobs, help is on the way in the form of $600 of federal unemployment insurance in addition to up to $275 of Florida’s state unemployment insurance for up to 12 weeks. Employees, independent contractors, and others in the “gig economy” who lost their jobs are all eligible for the federal benefit. Students will also be eligible for up to a six-month deferment of their federal student loans regardless of employment status. 

For small businesses, help is on the way in the form of a Small Business Payroll Protection and Loan Program. The program will provide up to $10,000 in emergency loans. The $350 billion loan program will also provide up to $10 million loans to meet payroll, utilities, rent and other expenses. These business loans will be 100 percent forgiven provided all employees are kept on payroll until June 30. We also provided for tax relief including expedited tax deductions and payroll tax deferment for 50 percent until 2021 and the remaining 50 percent until 2022.

For major industries and their employees in Central Florida, help is on the way in the form of several new funding sources. Hospitals will receive $127 billion to ensure we have the resources and equipment for our frontline heroes, like our doctors, nurses, firefighters and police officers, to help care for Floridians affected by COVID-19.

A new $500 billion loan fund for industries, cities, and states will assist Central Florida tourism and technology sectors to bounce back after a tough economic hit.

The aerospace industry will have access to $29 billion in grants and loans and an additional $17 billion for businesses that are key to our national security to recover.

Learning from the mistakes of the Great Recession bailouts, we have added a number of accountability provisions to this fund. We also included $34.9 billion to help growers and ranchers, and for food assistance to make sure that no Central Floridian goes hungry during the pandemic.

For state and local governments, help is on the way in the form of a $150 billion state and local stimulus fund (in addition to the $500 billion loan fund) to help the State of Florida and local governments with critical funding to combat this crisis. Smaller cities will be eligible for Community Development Block Grants and Rural Development Funding.

I understand that so many Central Floridians are suffering right now. Many have contracted COVID-19 and are fighting for their lives. First responders go to work every day putting themselves at risk to save lives.

Many families are working from home, assisting with their children’s education, and trying to stay healthy. Others have lost their jobs and are wondering when they will get their next paycheck, where they will get their next meal or when they will make their mortgage payment.

Seniors are facing isolation, unable to see their loved ones in person.

During these trying times, we must band together, even as we are apart, know that we can and will overcome this deadly pandemic, and after much work, resources, and hardship, this too shall pass. United we will stand.