This op-ed by Greg Sullivan and Charlie Chieppo appeared in the Boston Business Journal on March 27, 2020.
While passage of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Actis surely good news, it will come nowhere near fully addressing the pandemic’s impact on the commonwealth’s finances. Large block grants would be the best way to provide states with much needed relief.
Thanks to the virus, state revenue sources from sales taxes to pension fund receipts are plummeting. At the same time, expenses connected to the outbreak are rising sharply.
Just look at unemployment insurance. Weekly state unemployment claims rose from 4,712to 147,995in just two weeks. And while the new stimulus bill will add $600 to each unemployment check for up to four months and extend benefits to several previously ineligible categories of workers, it does nothing to mitigate the cost of benefits for the 30-week period during which Massachusetts recipients can normally collect.