March 9th Information &
Resource Update
State Legislative Leaders Announce Intention to Prevent UI Rate Increase, Exclude Forgiven PPP Loans from Gross Income

Yesterday, Senate President Karen Spilka, Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano, Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Michael Rodrigues, and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz released a joint statement signaling their intention to quickly pass legislation to provide unemployment insurance rate relief, and exempt from state taxes the forgiven portion of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for certain small businesses.

Other provisions intended to bolster the business community are likely to be included in the legislation as well. Portions of the statement are excerpted below:

  • “The Senate and House have reached agreement on a bill to help workers and employers jumpstart our nascent recovery as we begin to slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic."

  • "We have agreed to provide targeted tax relief to unemployed workers whose income falls below 200 percent of the poverty line. We also recognize that many are navigating our Unemployment Insurance (UI) system for the first time, and so we have agreed to waive penalties for missed tax payments on UI benefits received in 2020."

  • "The bill will prevent increases in the UI rate schedule for 2021 and 2022, providing employers with needed stability and relief as the Commonwealth continues to recover. The agreement also allows for state borrowing, secured by a temporary employer assessment, to ensure the solvency of the UI trust fund."

  • "To help many small businesses and employers who received PPP loans to stay afloat and save jobs, we have agreed to conform to the current federal tax code to exclude forgiven PPP loans from gross income for small businesses organized as pass-through entities.”

The Partnership will provide updates and more detailed information on this bill as it moves through the legislative process.
Summary: American Rescue Plan Expected to Become Law This Week

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow on final passage of major economic stimulus legislation which cleared the Senate over the weekend, the American Rescue Plan. The House Rules Committee voted this afternoon to advance the bill to the full House under a “closed rule,” which means the legislation cannot be amended on the House floor except by unanimous consent.

It is expected that the bill will be signed into law by week's end.

This $1.9 trillion package includes:

  • Direct Payments: This package includes a $1,400 payment to supplement the $600 already provided in December to income eligible Americans.

  • Unemployment Insurance extension: The bill extends enhanced unemployment insurance until September 6th, 2021. This includes an extension of the federal unemployment insurance bump that is added to all unemployment benefits (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC), at the current law amount of $300. 

  • PUA: The bill extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expands eligibility for the self-employed, gig workers, freelancers and others in non-traditional employment who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance, as well as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which makes additional weeks of benefits available to workers who exhaust their state benefits. All other CARES Act and Families First Act unemployment programs are similarly extended until September 6th.

  • Unemployment Insurance Taxation: The bill creates a $10,200 tax exclusion for unemployment compensation income for tax year 2020 for households with incomes under $150,000.

  • EITC and CTC: The bill also includes a significant expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). It will nearly triple the maximum EITC for childless workers, and it will increase the amount of the CTC, from $2,000 to $3,000 (with a more generous $3,600 credit for children under the age of 6). 

  • Child Care: The bill includes an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to help working families afford the cost of child care during the pandemic. This includes increasing the credit so households can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children, and making it fully refundable so families who owe little in taxes can still benefit.

  • State and Local Fiscal Aid: The bill includes direct aid to state and local governments, with $350 billion designated for states, territories, Tribes, and local governments to be used for responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, to offset revenue losses, bolster economic recovery, and to provide premium pay for essential workers. 

  • Paid Sick Leave Credit: The bill provides an extension and expansion of the paid sick and FMLA leave tax credits created in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. It provides payroll tax credits for employers who voluntarily provide paid leave through the end of September 2021. It also expands eligibility to state and local governments that provide this benefit.

  • Employee Retention Tax Credit: The bill extends and expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) through December 31st, 2021. The ERTC, originally enacted in the CARES Act, helps struggling businesses retain and rehire workers. The bill expands the ERTC to allow certain severely distressed businesses to claim the credit for a greater share of employee wages. It also expands the credit to cover newly formed businesses.

Selected additional provisions of the legislation include:


Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Targeted EIDL Grants: The bill will add $15 billion in new funding for Targeted EIDL grants to provide hard-hit, underserved small businesses with increased flexible grant relief.

  • Restaurants: The bill will provide $28.6 billion in direct relief for the restaurant industry through the creation of a grant program as envisioned in the RESTAURANTS Act.

  • Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program: This bill provides $1.25 billion in additional funds for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program because last year’s end-of-year package did not include sufficient funding to ensure all eligible applicants would be covered based on rough estimates.

  • Expanded PPP Eligibility: This bill expands PPP eligibility to include additional nonprofits such as 501(c)(5) labor and agricultural organizations and community locations of larger nonprofits and provides $7 billion for that purpose.

Environment and Public Works

  • EDA Funding: Provides the Economic Development Administration with $3 billion to aid communities in rebuilding local economies, which includes $750 million for the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors.

  • EPA Air Quality Funding: This bill provides $100 million to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in funding to update the national air quality monitoring system and reduce the air and toxic pollution that is linked with contributing to COVID-19 deaths.

Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

  • Nutrition: The bill will extend the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September 30th, 2021 to address continued food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic.

Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions  

  • Vaccines: $7.5 billion in CDC funding for vaccine distribution, along with $5.2 billion for BARDA for vaccine and supplies procurement.

  • Testing: The bill provides $48.3 billion for COVID-19 testing.

  • Health Workforce: The bill provides $7.66 billion to bolster the public health workforce and COVID-19 response.

  • Community Health Centers: Including $7.6 billion for community health centers, $1.44 billion for Older Americans Act programs, and $800 million for the National Health Services Corps.

  • Mental Health: The bill includes $3.88 billion to expand on investments made in the year-end 2020 package to increase availability of mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

  • Higher Ed: The bill provides $39.6 billion to colleges and universities and their students.

Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs  

  • Emergency Rental Assistance: $25 billion in emergency rental assistance. 

  • Small Business Capital: Provides $10 billion for the SSBCI; SSBCI provides investment for state governments to set up programs that can leverage private capital for low-interest loans and other investment to help entrepreneurs and the small business economy rebound.

  • Defense Production Act: Provides $10 billion to expand domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccines, and other medical supplies.
MetroWest Virtual Job Fair on March 30th

The Corridor 9/495 Regional Chamber of Commerce and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board have partnered to host a Virtual Job Fair to connect job seekers throughout the region with area businesses who are actively hiring. The event will be held on Tuesday, March 30th from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

This virtual event is free to area job seekers; interested participants must register and create a profile prior to taking part. Registration will remain open until Monday, March 29th at 5:00 PM. Registrants must provide their name, email address, telephone number, and a PDF version of their resume. Job seekers have the option to include a professional headshot on their profile as well. 
Upcoming Partnership Events

All Partnership events and committee meetings are being held virtually, via Zoom, at present. Committee meetings are open to all interested persons with advance registration.

  • Housing Committee Meeting: Thursday, March 25th at 8:30 AM. The Housing Committee will host its first meeting on Thursday, March 25th at 8:30 AM. This session will feature two presentations: Amy Dain of Dain Research, and author of The State of Zoning for Multi-Family Housing in Greater Boston, will present on the current state of housing in our region; and Chris Kluchman, Deputy Director of the Community Services Division at DHCD will present an overview of the state’s new Housing Choice legislation. Click here to register for the meeting.

  • Water Resources Committee Meeting: Tuesday, March 30th at 8:30 AM. The Water Resources Committee will host a presentation from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the MWRA Advisory Board on Tuesday, March 30th at 8:30 AM. The presentation will focus on MWRA’s activities and services in the Partnership’s service region, and will be followed by a Q&A. Click here to register for the meeting.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495 x105

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.