A Change.org petition with nearly 3 million signatures is demanding $2,000 payments for all Americans throughout the pandemic. Although an official fourth stimulus check from the federal government might seem unlikely at this point, states are doing their own part in making sure federal stimulus money gets distributed. As part of the American Rescue Plan stimulus relief bill, states were allotted over $200 billion dollars to spend towards their economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
States have until the end of 2021 to give their money out, and governors have already begun doling out cash where they feel their states need it the most.
State Stimulus Checks
Certain residents of the following states might be eligible for stimulus money.
California is currently the only state to have sent out a type of “stimulus” check with its own money. California has a state budget surplus, largely due to its unique tax system. California has a progressive income tax schedule, meaning that the more you make, the more you pay in taxes. This, plus thrifty budgeting, provided enough money for actual checks in the amount of $500 or $600 to residents earning between $30,000 and $75,000 per year. This is in addition to $500 to be paid to households with dependent children.
Colorado is sending $375 to those who received at least one unemployment payment between March 15, 2020 and Oct. 24, 2020. Higher-income workers who qualified for more than $500 per week in base unemployment benefits are not eligible, CPR News reported.
Maryland passed legislation several months ago to repeal all state and local taxes on unemployment benefits and included immediate stimulus payments of $500 for families and $300 for individuals who filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
See: Stimulus Update — New Bill Proposes Expansion of Worker Benefits on the Heels of Child Tax Credits and COVID Relief ChecksFind: Stimulus Package Update Offers Free Health Insurance Through the End of the Year
New Mexico’s state stimulus program has earmarked $5 million to be distributed to New Mexicans who didn’t qualify for federal stimulus payments, KRQE reported.
New York state created a $2.1 billion fund for undocumented workers unable to claim federal stimulus monies. To qualify, you must be a resident of the state and have made less than $26,208 in 2020.
Federal Funding — Retention Bonuses
Several states have decided to use some of the federal money as retention bonuses for their teachers, as most schools are expected to open in-person this year, AS reported. The bonuses also act as a “thank you” for the particularly rough school year most teachers had to endure.
Florida allocated a $1000 check to most teachers and administrators, but controversy arose when Governor DeSantis notably left some educators out. The situation is still developing.
Georgia has one of the more generous plans, with Governor Kemp authorizing all full-time teachers and administrators to receive $1,000 checks, with part-time teachers receiving $500. There is a plan underway to provide for pre-K educators as well.
Although a retention bonus like Georgia and Florida has not yet been outlined, Michigan sent out $500 hazard pay bonuses to its teachers earlier in the year.
Tennessee’s state government passed a bill in June that scrapped an expected 2% raise and replaced it with a $1,000 check it labeled as a hazard pay bonus to full-time teachers. Part-time teachers get $500. Eligible individuals will receive their checks by the end of the year.
The state of Texas has not confirmed a state-wide retention bonus, but certain districts are doing their part for teachers. Fort Worth and Arlington will increase pay 4% for all district employees. Denton and Mansfile teachers will receive a 2% raise. Denton employees will also see a $500 bonus, and in Irving, a $2,000 payment will be distributed to staff who return to the classroom in September.
If you believe you could be eligible for these checks, make sure to log on to your state’s Treasury website to either register with your state or contact its Treasury department. Most families and individuals under the income thresholds will be eligible to receive full state benefit amounts, regardless of whether or not they pay taxes. It will not be held against you if you have not paid taxes this year or last — in most cases these are fully refundable checks, meaning you do not have to pay them back and they do not count as income towards this year’s taxes.
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This story has been updated to include a reference to a petition demanding stimulus payments to all Americans.