States doling out worker stimulus checks

A teacher with a mask in talking to young students
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Early in the pandemic, various states — including Illinois, Pennsylvania and Louisiana — approved bonus pay for certain public employees or for workers with private companies who did important jobs during the crisis.

States have until the end of this year to decide how they’ll spend their federal COVID aid. In some locations that approved bonuses, payments are going out throughout this year, while some states are still considering fresh relief proposals for workers.

Massachusetts

Under a recent legislative proposal, Massachusetts would use some of its federal pandemic funds to create a COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay Fund to give eligible essential workers $500 to $2,000 to recognize their time on the job during the pandemic state of emergency.

Maine

The state’s latest budget includes enough money to provide $285 disaster relief checks to about a half million residents who worked during the pandemic’s early days. The state is mailing payments through the end of the year.

“I hope this will help Maine families to some small degree during the holiday season as we work to fully recover our economy,” Gov. Janet Mills says.

Minnesota

This state has a question mark hanging over $250 million set aside for frontline workers in its budget. After about a dozen meetings, a group of lawmakers failed to agree on a plan to distribute the money.

The group recently said it will send two plans to the Legislature: Republican members want to prioritize payments for people who had the highest risk of COVID-19 exposure, while the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party favors a broader pool of workers.

Florida

In recognition of the special difficulties teachers have faced while navigating their way through the pandemic, Florida has been handing out $1,000 checks to its educators.

The Sunshine State also is paying first responders — including law enforcement officers, paramedics, EMTs and firefighters — up to $1,000 as a thank-you for the sacrifices they've been making throughout the crisis.

Tennessee

A bill passed by Tennessee's state legislature earlier this year will provide teachers with hazard pay for making it through the worst of the pandemic.

Lawmakers had originally proposed a 2% raise for educators, but it was ultimately replaced with a one-time payment of $1,000 for full-time teachers. It's expected the checks will be mailed out by the end of 2021.

Texas

While there’s no statewide program for COVID relief payments in Texas, some local school districts are providing their employees with stimulus checks in the form of retention bonuses.

In the Dallas suburb of Irving, the bonus is as much as $2,000. In nearby Denton, teachers will receive $500 and a 2% pay increase. Several Texas school districts have approved pay raises for educators instead of direct payments.

What if your state isn’t offering extra stimulus?

Hands counting bills, American cash
Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

If you don’t have a job that qualifies for relief, or you simply want to spend carefully during the lingering uncertainty from the pandemic, try some ideas to free up extra cash on your own.

  • Deal with your debt. Credit is convenient, but it doesn't take long before expensive interest catches up with you. If you're juggling multiple credit card balances and other high-interest debt, fold them into a single debt consolidation loan to pay off what you owe faster and more affordably.

  • Cut your insurance bills. If you haven’t shopped around for a better rate on your car insurance lately, you might be paying hundreds of dollars too much each year — especially if you're still working from home and driving less. A little comparison shopping could slash your auto premiums.

  • Stretch every dollar. Can you drop subscription services you're not using? Can you downgrade your phone plan to save a few dollars every month? And finally, are you getting the best deals when you shop online? If you're not sure about that last one, try using a free browser add-on that automatically scours the internet for better prices and coupons.

  • Turn your pennies into a portfolio. Try to make some money in the stock market by investing just your "spare change" from everyday purchases. You won't even miss the pennies that help you build a diverse portfolio.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Reporter

Sigrid is a reporter with MoneyWise. Before joining the team, she worked for a B2B publication in the hardware and home improvement industry and ran an internal employee magazine for the federal government. As a graduate of the Carleton University Journalism program, she takes pride in telling informative, engaging and compelling stories.

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