GOV. CHARLIE BAKER said he opposes President Trump’s stimulus alternative because it relies for funding on money Massachusetts and other states are counting on to cover COVID-19 costs and related expenditures.
With Congress unable to come to agreement on a stimulus package, Trump over the weekend signed a number of orders, including one that would provide an extra $400 a week to people out of work and receiving existing unemployment insurance benefits.
Baker said Trump intends to use money appropriated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover the federal government’s share of the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit, which comes to three-quarters of the cost. States would be required to cover the remaining cost of the benefit, and Trump has said they could use CARES Act funds to do so.
Baker said Trump’s proposal is credible, but it takes money that states are already counting on to cover their COVID-19 costs and uses those funds to pay for the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit.
“That FEMA money, as far as most states are concerned, is what’s there for us to apply to be reimbursed for the costs we incurred in March, April, and May during the original emergency,” Baker said.
The same goes for using CARES Act funds to pay for the state’s share of the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit, Baker said. The governor said the CARES Act funding in most cases has already been designated for other needs. “It’s using most of a pot of money that’s already designated for a very particular purpose,” he said.
Baker said he would prefer that Congress step up and pass a comprehensive stimulus plan. “It’s really important that there be a fourth [stimulus] package,” he said.