Sen. Stacey Guerin delivers this week’s Republican Radio Address
Hello friends and fellow Mainers:
I am Stacey Guerin and I represent District 10 in the State Senate.
Recently, both the Maine State Legislature and the U.S. Congress passed new laws to assist people, businesses, and non-profit organizations in dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The goal of the action taken in these new laws is to help individuals and families get through the immediate crisis, but it is also designed to accomplish something much greater in the long term.
By finding ways to get more money out into the market in the hands of everyday Americans, there is a much better chance of keeping the economy moving, even at a slower pace. This way, when the crisis subsides, restoring the economy will be a much easier and shorter task than if the government had done nothing.
For example, helping a small business stay afloat, even if just barely, means that the business survives and might resume operating in a few months rather than closing permanently, leaving the owners and their employees to start over from scratch.
Written by Senator Susan Collins with the help of the Retail Association of Maine and others, the new “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES) passed by Congress includes, for example, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The PPP provides small businesses with a low interest loan to cover their operating costs over the next eight weeks. It allows a business to borrow two and a half times its average monthly payroll costs over the previous twelve months.
The interest on these loans is deferred, and if the business keeps their employees on the payroll and can show that the money went just to payroll and rent, the loan will be forgiven. As you can see, the hope here is to keep businesses intact and ready to jumpstart their operations when the outbreak subsides.
There are a number of other programs for small businesses in Maine available through the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Finance Authority of Maine.
For individuals who find themselves suddenly out of work, there is also a lot of support. First, the laws regarding unemployment compensation have been relaxed.
There is no longer a one-week waiting period. Applicants do not have to prove they have looked for work and people who were self-employed or whose benefits had already run out are eligible.
In addition to the state unemployment benefit, the federal government has added a lump sum payment of $600 per week to each unemployment claim through July 25th of this year. This not only helps those who are suddenly unemployed but adds to the amount of money still being spent in our economy to benefit local businesses and their employees.
As you might imagine, filing an unemployment claim is not easy right now. During the last two weeks, initial claims hit an all-time high of more than 21,000 two weeks ago, up from just 634 the week before. The following week, they rose again.
A little more than a week ago the Maine Department of Labor received a whopping 285,000 telephone messages in just one day from people making claims.
Understandably, the phone lines are jammed; but you can complete a new unemployment claim online at reemployme.maine.gov. Using a PC or laptop to do so works better than using your smartphone.
While I know firsthand that times are very difficult and uncertain at the moment, the response from both the state and federal governments has been unprecedented; and there are numerous programs and funds available for both individuals and small businesses.
To see all of these programs and many more resources in one place, visit our Website at mesenategop.com or our Facebook page at Maine Senate Republicans.
In the meantime, try to think on good things, take advantage of the government programs created for your benefit, take good care of yourself and your family and join me in praying for our state, country and leaders.
Again, I am Senator Stacey Guerin of District 10.
Have a blessed week.