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REGIONAL- Frontline workers in the COVID-19 pandemic will be getting $750 HERO checks and Minnesota employers will avoid a significant increase in unemployment insurance taxes after Gov. Tim Walz …
REGIONAL- Frontline workers in the COVID-19 pandemic will be getting $750 HERO checks and Minnesota employers will avoid a significant increase in unemployment insurance taxes after Gov. Tim Walz signed a $2.7 million compromise bill that ended a months-long legislative logjam.
Last year the Legislature allocated $250 million to provide checks to frontline workers who could only do their jobs by being physically present at work. But Republican and DFL negotiators remained at odds through the fall about who should qualify to receive the HERO checks and how much they would be.
The GOP wanted to limit the checks primarily to those working in health care and corrections, which would have given $1,200 checks to around 200,000 workers. The DFL plan included many more classifications of employees as frontline workers, including grocery store clerks, childcare staff, school staff, food service workers, and more, which would have bumped up the number of eligible to more than 600,000, splitting the $250 million pot into much smaller checks.
Separate plans were introduced at the start of the current legislative session, but the HERO checks became linked to another pressing state need, that of replenishing the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) trust fund, which fell into a $1.3 billion deficit during the pandemic. Gov. Walz and Senate Republicans both proposed standalone allocations to deal with the UI trust fund issue, but DFL legislators said that the UI trust fund measure wouldn’t move ahead without concurrent action on the HERO check dispute.
An April 30 deadline for businesses to submit first-quarter unemployment tax payments provided extra incentive for the two sides to hammer out a compromise that was made possible by the state’s $9 billion surplus.
The amount of money allocated for frontline worker checks was doubled to $500 million, allowing the state to give HERO checks averaging $750 to as many as 667,000 frontline workers in the broader array of occupations advocated for by the DFL. The actual amount of the checks will depend on how many workers ultimately apply for them. While a processing plan for applications has been developed, it will likely be about three months before distribution of checks begins.
Details about eligibility and applying for Minnesota Frontline Worker Pay can be found online at https://frontlinepay.mn.gov/, although plans are still being finalized.
Detailed information for businesses regarding unemployment insurance tax payments and refunds is available online at https://mn.gov/uimn/employers/employer-account/news-updates/tax-changes-affect-you.jsp.
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