December 21st Information &
Resource Update
SUMMARY: Federal COVID-19 Relief Spending Package

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are expected to vote on major COVID-19 relief spending as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 later today. The $2.2 trillion omnibus legislation includes approximately $900 billion in pandemic relief spending, including direct payments to individuals, an extension of unemployment benefits, and additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, among many other components.

A summary of the COVID-19 relief measures can be found below. The full text of the legislation can be accessed online at this link; please note the full 5,593-page bill is not limited to pandemic relief spending, and includes appropriations to fund the federal government into September 2021 as well as other authorizations.

This legislation, if passed by both branches and signed into law by the President:

Direct Payments to Individuals

  • Provides a refundable tax credit in the amount of $600 per eligible family member; Treasury will issue advance payments based on the information on 2019 tax returns.

  • The credit is $600 per taxpayer ($1,200 for married filing jointly), in addition to $600 per qualifying child. The credit phases out starting at $75,000 of modified adjusted gross income ($112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married filing jointly) at a rate of $5 per $100 of additional income.

  • Eligible taxpayers treated as providing returns through the nonfiler portal in the first round of Economic Impact Payments, provided under the CARES Act, will also receive payments. Treasury may issue advance payments for Social Security Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance beneficiaries, Supplemental Security Income recipients, Railroad Retirement Board beneficiaries, and Veterans Administration beneficiaries who did not file 2019 returns based on information provided by the Social Security Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Veterans Administration.

  • If the amount of the credit determined on the taxpayer’s 2020 tax return exceeds the amount of the advance payment, taxpayers will receive the difference as a refundable tax credit.

Extension of Unemployment Support

  • Extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to March 14, 2021 and allows individuals receiving benefits as of March 14, 2021 to continue through April 5, 2021, as long as the individual has not reached the maximum number of weeks.

  • Increases the number of weeks of benefits an individual may claim from 39 to 50.

  • Provides for appeals to be at the state level.

  • Provides states authority to waive overpayments made without fault on the part of the individual or when such repayment would violate equity and good conscience.

  • Provides a transition rule for certain individuals transitioning between PUA and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

  • Limits payment of retroactive PUA benefits to weeks of unemployment after December 1, 2020.

  • Extends through March 14, 2021 a provision in the CARES Act which amended the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide federal support to cover 50% of the costs of unemployment benefits for employees of state and local governments and non-profit organizations.

  • Restores the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) supplement to all state and federal unemployment benefits at $300 per week, starting after December 26 and ending March 14, 2021.

  • Provides a federally funded $100 per week additional benefit to individuals who have at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income but are disqualified from receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance because they are eligible for regular state unemployment benefits. This mixed-earner supplemental benefit would be added to the FPUC and would terminate along with it on March 14, 2021.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

  • Continues the Paycheck Protection Program, and requires the SBA Administrator to establish regulations to carry out this provision no later than 10 days after enactment.

  • Creates a second loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, called a “PPP second draw” loan for smaller and harder-hit businesses, with a maximum amount of $2 million. Click here for a more detailed summary on PPP Second Draw. Eligibility: In order to receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan under this section, eligible entities must:
  • Employ not more than 300 employees;
  • Have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP; and
  • Demonstrate at least a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts in the first, second, or third quarter of 2020 relative to the same 2019 quarter. Provides applicable timelines for businesses that were not in operation in Q1, Q2, and Q3, and Q4 of 2019.
  • Applications submitted on or after January 1, 2021 are eligible to utilize the gross receipts from the fourth quarter of 2020.
  • Eligible entities must be businesses, certain non-profit organizations, housing cooperatives, veterans’ organizations, tribal businesses, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and small agricultural co-operatives.

  • Makes the following expenses allowable and forgivable uses for Paycheck Protection Program funds:
  • Covered operations expenditures: payment for any software, cloud computing, and other human resources and accounting needs.
  • Covered property damage costs: costs related to property damage due to public disturbances that occurred during 2020 that are not covered by insurance.
  • Covered supplier costs: expenditures to a supplier pursuant to a contract, purchase order, or order for goods in effect prior to taking out the loan that are essential to the recipient’s operations at the time at which the expenditure was made. Supplier costs of perishable goods can be made before or during the life of the loan.
  • Covered worker protection expenditure: personal protective equipment and adaptive investments to help a loan recipient comply with federal health and safety guidelines or any equivalent State and local guidance related to COVID-19 during.

  • Allows loans made under PPP before, on, or after the enactment of this act to be eligible to utilize the expanded forgivable expenses except for borrowers who have already had their loans forgiven.

  • Requires the Administrator to release guidance to lenders within 17 days of enactment that allows borrowers who returned all or part of their PPP loan to reapply for the maximum amount applicable so long that they have not received forgiveness.

  • Creates a simplified application process for loans under $150,000.

  • Excludes publicly traded companies from PPP eligibility.

  • Extends the covered period for all PPP loans through March 31, 2021.

  • Provides clarification on tax treatment of PPP loans; clarifies that gross income does not include any amount that would otherwise arise from the forgiveness of a PPP loan. This provision also clarifies that deductions are allowed for otherwise deductible expenses paid with the proceeds of a PPP loan that is forgiven, and that the tax basis and other attributes of the borrower’s assets will not be reduced as a result of the loan forgiveness. The provision is effective as of the date of enactment of the CARES Act. The provision provides similar treatment for Second Draw PPP loans, effective for tax years ending after the date of enactment of the provision.

Emergency Rental Assistance

  • Appropriates $25 billion through Treasury to provide to state and local government entities within 30 days of enactment. Eligible households are defined as renter households who: (1) have a household income not more than 80 percent of AMI; (2) have one or more household members who can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and (3) have one or more household members who qualify for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic. 

  • Assistance would be prioritized for renter households whose incomes do not exceed 50 percent of AMI as well as renter households who are currently unemployed and have been unemployed for 90 or more days. Financial assistance provided under this section is non-taxable for households receiving such assistance.

  • Extends the CDC eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.

Hunger Relief

  • Increases the monthly SNAP benefit level by 15% based on the June 2020 Thrifty Food Plan through June 30, 2021. 

  • Excludes Pandemic Unemployment Compensation from being counted toward household income for SNAP. 

  • Extends SNAP eligibility to college students who are eligible for a federal or state work study program or has an expected family contribution of zero.


  • Provides $82 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund: flexible funding to support the educational needs of states, school districts, and institutions of higher education and the students they serve in response to coronavirus.

  • Provides $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Formula funding to states and school districts to help schools respond to coronavirus, including new allowable uses of funds for:
  • School facilities repairs and improvements, including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems projects to improve indoor air quality in school facilities, and
  • Addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care.

Higher Education

  • Provides $20.2 billion for public and private, non-profit institutions of higher education, including those that serve students enrolled exclusively in distance education, to be distributed by a formula taking into account head count and full-time equivalent enrollment.

  • Provides $1.7 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and certain other institutions.

  • Provides $113 million for institutions of higher education with unmet need.

State & Local Governments: Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension

  • Extends the date by which state and local governments much make expenditures with CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund awards from December 30, 2020 to December 31, 2021.

Health, Public Health, Mental Health

  • $4.5 billion for State, local, Territorial, and Tribal Public Health Departments.

  • $300 million for a targeted effort to distribute and administer vaccines to high-risk and underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minority populations and rural communities.

  • $19.695 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for manufacturing and procurement of vaccines and therapeutics, as well as ancillary supplies necessary for the administration of vaccines and therapeutics.

  • $3.25 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile.

  • $25.4 billion to support testing and contact tracing to effectively monitor and suppress COVID-19, as well as to reimburse for health care related expenses or lost revenue attributable to the coronavirus.

  • $3 billion in additional grants for hospital and health care providers to be reimbursed for health care related expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to the public health emergency resulting from coronavirus, along with direction to allocate not less than 85 percent of unobligated funds in the Provider Relief Fund through an application-based portal to reimburse health care providers for financial losses incurred in 2020.

  • $4.25 billion to provide increased mental health and substance abuse services and support.

  • Provides for a one-time, one-year increase in the Medicare physician fee schedule of 3.75 percent, in order to support physicians and other professionals in adjusting to changes in the Medicare physician fee schedule during 2021, and to provide relief during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

MMA EPA Publishes Final NPDES General Permits for MS4s

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the final limited modifications to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permits for discharges of stormwater from small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in Massachusetts and New Hampshire under the Clean Water Act. The final text as published in the Federal Register can be accessed online here

The final modifications represent the results of mediation supervised by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Mediation Program between EPA and petitioners. In April 2020, EPA and the petitioners entered into settlement agreements that included commitments for EPA to propose certain modifications to the 2016 Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit and the 2017 New Hampshire Small MS4 General Permit, and then to take final action on each proposal.

These final permit modifications are effective 30 days after signature, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern daylight time on December 30, 2020.
Employment Opportunity: Westborough Economic Development Coordinator

The Town of Westborough is accepting applications for the full-time position of Economic Development Coordinator. Working under the direction of the Community Development Director, this position coordinates and implements a wide variety of economic development and business retention activities and supports the policy initiatives of the Town’s Economic Development Committee. A full job description is available online at this link.

The position requires a Bachelor's degree and 3 to 5 years related experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience, with a Master's degree preferred. Questions may be directed via email to Initial review of applications will begin December 30, 2020; the position will remain open until filled. 
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. You may reach me directly via email at

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership