8 Ways The $2 Trillion Relief Bill Will Impact Central Illinois | WGLT

8 Ways The $2 Trillion Relief Bill Will Impact Central Illinois

Mar 31, 2020

UPDATED 11:15 a.m. | President Trump on Friday signed an historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law.

The bill won support from central Illinois’ congressional delegation, including Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and Republican Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood.

There are seven main groups that will see the widest-reaching impacts: individuals, small businesses, big corporations, hospitals and public health, federal safety net, state and local governments, and education. Here’s a look at how that could play out in Central Illinois.

Payouts To Individuals

Most individuals earning less than $75,000 can expect a one-time cash payment of $1,200. Married couples would each receive a check and families would get $500 per child. That means a family of four earning less than $150,000 can expect $3,400.

The checks start to phase down after that and disappear completely for people making more than $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000.

Check your amount using The Washington Post’s payment calculator.

Gig Workers and Freelancers

The CARES Act makes major changes to unemployment assistance, increasing the benefits and broadening who is eligible. It adds $600 per week from the federal government on top of whatever base amount a worker receives from the state. That will last for four months.

Typically, self-employed people, freelancers and contractors can't apply for unemployment. This bill creates a new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through the end of this year to help people who lose work as a direct result of the public health emergency.

Chestnut Health Systems, based in Bloomington, already benefited from an earlier, smaller round of coronavirus relief funding.
Credit Ryan Denham / WGLT

Community Health Centers

Chestnut Health Systems, based in Bloomington, already benefited from an earlier, smaller round of coronavirus relief funding. Chestnut, which operates a community-based health center on Bloomington’s west side, received $53,040 earlier this month, part of a $100 million congressional appropriation to help community health centers respond to the coronavirus.

“We, like other health care providers, are working feverishly to build up our inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE),” said Chestnut spokesperson Lori Laughlin. “We plan to use a significant portion of the ($53,040) funds to purchase additional PPE. Things like N95 masks, disposable masks, and latex gloves.”

The CARES Act includes $1.3 billion in additional funding for community health centers nationwide. There are several parts of the CARES Act from which Chestnut might pursue funding, Loughlin said. That includes funding for community behavioral health organizations, aid to health care institutions on the front lines of the crisis, disaster loans for certain businesses and not-for-profits, and funding for telemedicine in rural areas.

School Districts

The CARES Act will provide $13.5 billion for K-12 schools. Illinois is expecting to receive around $569 million, according to the State Board of Education (ISBE).

The money will be funneled to districts proportionally based on the share of Title I funding they currently get from the federal government — in other words, how many low-income families are served. The money can be used for cleaning supplies, long-term meal distribution, technology for online learning, and to protect jobs and pay staff.

Unit 5 and District 87 are each expected to receive around $1.6 million, according to a preliminary estimate released Tuesday by the State Board of Education.

Districts are "strongly encouraged" to explore using the additional funding to strengthen their infrastructure for remote learning, according to the ISBE.

Amtrak

Uptown Station is home to the second-busiest Amtrak station in Illinois, behind only Chicago.

Amtrak will see over $1 billion in funding from the CARES Act, including $239 million for state-supported routes that will cover Illinois Amtrak costs.

“This essential funding for Amtrak will help keep people working and the economy moving during this unprecedented situation,” said Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari. “At Amtrak, we continue to keep employee and customer safety as a top priority, as we take aggressive measures to cut costs and adjust service so that we come out of this crisis ready to continue serving the nation.”

Connect Transit has seen a 60-65% loss in ridership due to the coronavirus.
Credit Jeff Smudde / WGLT

Connect Transit

Connect Transit is still waiting to find out how much additional funding it will receive from the $25 billion included in the CARES Act for public transit.

The money will reimburse public transit agencies for maintaining service and lost revenue due to the coronavirus, including the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the cost of putting staff on administrative leave due to reduction in service.

Connect Transit has seen a 60-65% loss in ridership and has taken steps like many transit agencies to suspend fare collection and reduce service, said general manager Isaac Thorne.

“I just hope the funding being provided is enough,” Thorne said. “Public transit is an essential service in our community. People still need to get to dialysis and chemotherapy treatments. Many of our residents are being greatly affected by this crisis and need Connect Transit services more than ever.”

Local Governments

The City of Bloomington and Town of Normal will split over $575,000 in “flexible funding” meant to help local governments address coronavirus impacts at the community level.

Bloomington ($329,144) and Normal ($246,067) are among many cities receiving Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) Disaster Recovery grants as part of the CARES Act.

"This federal funding will allow our local communities to respond to the specific needs they have," said Rep. Rodney Davis, whose 13th Congressional District includes parts of Bloomington and Normal. "I've heard from mayors and county board chairs about the need for federal funding to deal with a wide range of impacts the coronavirus pandemic is having on our shared constituencies.”

Central Illinois Regional Airport

The CARES Act includes $10 billion to help airports continue to operate amid the largest air travel downturn in history and pay for additional costs related to the COVID-19 response.

Central Illinois Regional Airport executive director Carl Olson said he is optimistic the Bloomington airport will see some of that money, although it’s too soon to say how much or how it will be used. The funds are intended to help airports prepare for and respond to the pandemic.

The airport remains open, Olson said.

“Like many places we’ve experienced a dramatic drop in economic activity,” he said, noting the airport’s compliance, safety, and security obligations are still being met.