Here's What the Coronavirus Stimulus Package Could Mean for N.H.

March 25, 2020

The $2 trillion stimulus package passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday seeks to help soften the economic damage of the coronavirus. Here's a summary of how the bill, which the House could take up as early as Friday, would likely impact New Hampshire residents and businesses. 

Direct Payments

Under the plan, many Granite Staters would receive direct payments from the federal government. Individuals who earn less than $75,000 a year can expect a check for $1,200. Married filers who jointly earned under $150,000 will receive $2,400. Each child 16 or younger will add an additional $500 to the payment. 

Individuals and households who earned more than those levels will receive less, with direct payments phased out for those who earned more than $99,000, or $198,000 as a couple. 

Income levels will be based on your 2019 tax filing, though if you haven't filed yet, your 2018 filing will serve as the income level. A Social Security number is required for most recipients. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says payments could roll out in about three weeks for those with a bank account on file with the IRS. Paper checks could take far longer to cut and deliver. 

Small Business Support

The stimulus package contains approximately $377 billion in support for small businesses nationwide. New Hampshire businesses with fewer than 500 employees could be eligible for eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through federal loans. If the employer keeps its workers on the payroll, then the portion of the loan used for payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. 

The size of the loans would equal 250 percent of an employer’s average monthly payroll, with a maximum loan amount of $10 million.

This proposal is retroactive to February 15, so that companies can bring back workers who have already been laid off back onto the payroll.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who along with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, helped lead bipartisan negotiations on the small business relief package published a summary of what’s included.

Enhanced Unemployment Benefits, Even For "Gig" Workers

More than 41,000 Granite Staters registered to receive unemployment benefits last week, an unprecedented number that is ten times more than what the state saw during the worst of the Great Recession. 

While the state’s unemployment program is capped at $427 per week for approved recipients, the federal stimulus package is adding an additional $600 per week for up to the first four months for those who qualify. Federal benefits would last for up to 39 weeks. 

Gig workers, such as Uber drivers or certain delivery drivers, as well as artists and other workers considered self-employed are covered under the package.

Hospitals and Health Care Workers

The package sets aside more than $130 billion for the health care system nationwide, as hospitals prepare for an onslaught of sick patients and a reduction in income from cancelled elective procedures.

Last week, Gov. Chris Sununu also announced a $50 million emergency fund for hospitals in the state. The federal package also sets aside at least $1.25 billion for New Hampshire’s response to COVID-19.

Student Loan Payments

There’s relief for residents with student loan payments: the package suspends federal loan payments through September 30th, with no penalties for borrowers.

Food Banks & Farmers

New Hampshire’s small farmers appear to be in line for benefits under the package passed by the Senate. The bill sets aside $9.5 billion for farms nationwide that have been impacted by the virus, including those that have seen income reduction from the closure of farmer’s markets and local restaurants. Dairy farmers are also eligible for economic relief. The package also sets aside money to support local food banks, though it isn’t clear how much local providers of food for the needy may receive.

Transport Support

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, which was facing declining passenger numbers before the coronavirus outbreak, could see some financial relief. The Senate-backed package includes $10 billion in grants nationwide for airports, which have been hurt by the steep falloff in air travel in recent weeks.

There is also money set aside for public transportation and Amtrak, which has curtailed service locally on the Downeaster line. 

The 880-page bill contains a variety of other measures. You can read the entire package here.


By:  Todd Bookman
Source: NHPR