By Bob Katzen

The House and Senate approved and Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a $31 million unemployment package that would provide $1,800 each to an estimated 17,000

Massachusetts workers who were previously ineligible for the $1,800 under the Trump administration’s Lost Wages Assistance program because they were collecting under $100 per week in state unemployment assistance, the minimum amount a worker could be earning in order to collect the federally funded $1,800. The $1,800 is comprised of $300 per week for six weeks.

The bill would give additional state unemployment benefits to each of these workers to boost their benefits to the minimum $100. For example, a claimant who was receiving $90 per week from the state would be given an additional retroactive $10 per week from the state and then he or she would be eligible for the $1,800.

“I filed [the bill] because this is $31 million in federal funds that people with few resources can use for rent, food other needs,” said the bill’s chief sponsor Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “It will benefit them and local businesses, and we can be sure they will spend it immediately.”

“This boost to unemployment compensation for those affected by the Trump Administration rule is a critical measure to alleviate unnecessary hardship for 17,000 of the most vulnerable people across the commonwealth,” said co-sponsorSen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow).

“The passage of this legislation is a small way to restore equity to the distribution of federal funds,” said Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton). “No one should miss out on $1,800 in federal dollars simply because they are $8 or $18, or $28 shy of an arbitrary threshold imposed only on those who earn the least. Massachusetts has taken a step toward righting a wrong that was cruel and punitive for those who need the government’s help the most right now.”

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