Gov. Jared Polis gives an update on the extent of the coronavirus pandemic and the extend of the state’s wildfires on Aug. 18, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)
An estimated 435,000 Coloradans will receive a one-time direct payment of $375 in early December under an economic stimulus program announced by Gov. Jared Polis and state lawmakers on Wednesday.
“I am taking swift action in close consultation with legislative leadership and members of the JBC to direct immediate payments to people whose lives and jobs have been hurt due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Polis said in a statement, referring to the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. “Colorado can and should act now to help the hardworking people who will help lead us out of this challenging time and that’s what we’re doing today.”
An executive order signed Wednesday by Polis directs the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to issue the payments to all “qualifying individuals experiencing economic hardships caused by COVID-19.”
In order to qualify, an individual must have received weekly unemployment benefits of between $25 and $500 at some point between March 15 and Oct. 24, which would apply to unemployed or previously unemployed workers who earn less than $52,000 in annual income.
The announcement follows Monday’s adjournment by the U.S. Senate until Nov. 9, which ended hopes of additional federal COVID-19 relief legislation before next week’s election. With the coronavirus again spreading rapidly across the country and threatening to cause further economic harm, Colorado Democrats continued to call on Congress to pass a new aid package.
“These payments will help bridge the gap for many Coloradans, but it’s not enough,” Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Democrat from Boulder, said in a statement. “We must continue working to find solutions that support our communities during this pandemic. Too many Americans are underwater — abandoned by the federal government in their time of need.”
CDLE said in a release that qualifying individuals do not need to take any additional action to receive the payment, but recommended that those eligible log in to the state’s unemployment system to make sure their address and payment information are up to date.
“The Department is currently programming its systems to administer this one-time payment, and eligible claimants should expect to receive their payment the first week of December,” officials said.
The executive order calls for $168 million to be made available for the payments. The vast majority of that sum comes from savings in the state’s general fund due to lower than estimated growth in Medicaid enrollment and an extension of federal matching funds, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
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