ILLINOIS RADIO NETWORK — The first federal COVID-19 stimulus package since March is on its way. An Illinois state lawmaker says it will help, but people want to get back to work.
State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, said the federal government needs to provide liability protection. That’s not part of the 5,593-page bill that members of Congress revealed Monday. During the “Save Our Jobs” rally organized by bar and restaurant owners outside the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield on Saturday, Murphy told business owners protesting COVID-19 mitigation orders that relief for the historic unemployment costs is needed. “I would like for the federal government to address our massive unemployment trust fund deficit that this pandemic has caused you should not be on the hook for,” Murphy said.
The unemployment trust fund is paid through taxes on the employer. Illinois has borrowed billions to cover growing unemployment costs. Business groups fear that will likely mean increased costs down the road. On the floor of the U.S. Senate on Monday, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said they may have to come back next month to continue addressing the unemployment issues. “Merely extending unemployment benefits for ten or eleven weeks may not be long enough,” Durbin said. “We may have to return to take a look at it.”
The federal measure is expected to enhance unemployment by $300 a week, not $600 a week as was passed earlier in the pandemic.The package also has money for vaccine distribution, a cash payment to most Americans of $600 and an extension of business grants, among other spending, Durbin said. “We are going to come through with dramatic offers of relief across the board,” Durbin said. “It’s in the range of $900 billion total. I don’t know the exact amount.”
On Saturday, Murphy said small businesses can use assistance, but they’d rather get back to work providing jobs and services. “You want to get back to work, but until you can we need a bridge program that will allow you to remain solvent until you can operate at full capacity.” One account of the massive bill included more than $280 billion in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans.
The $900 billion in COVID-19 relief is coupled with a $1.4 trillion federal spending bill. It includes $82 billion in funding for schools and colleges, but no money for state or local governments.