Baker opposes Trump’s stimulus alternative

Says proposal diverts funds states are counting on

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER said he opposes President Trump’s stimulus alternative because it relies for funding on money Massachusetts and other states are counting on to cover COVID-19 costs and related expenditures.

With Congress unable to come to agreement on a stimulus package, Trump over the weekend signed a number of orders, including one that would provide an extra $400 a week to people out of work and receiving existing unemployment insurance benefits.

Baker said Trump intends to use money appropriated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover the federal government’s share of the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit, which comes to three-quarters of the cost. States would be required to cover the remaining cost of the benefit, and Trump has said they could use CARES Act funds to do so.

Baker said Trump’s proposal is credible, but it takes money that states are already counting on to cover their COVID-19 costs and uses those funds to pay for the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit.

“That FEMA money, as far as most states are concerned, is what’s there for us to apply to be reimbursed for the costs we incurred in March, April, and May during the original emergency,” Baker said.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The same goes for using CARES Act funds to pay for the state’s share of the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit, Baker said. The governor said the CARES Act funding in most cases has already been designated for other needs. “It’s using most of a pot of money that’s already designated for a very particular purpose,” he said.

Baker said he would prefer that Congress step up and pass a comprehensive stimulus plan. “It’s really important that there be a fourth [stimulus] package,” he said.