State leaders can help with strong outreach program
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - About 12 million Americans — including 750,000 Floridians — risk missing out on the stimulus payments provided through the federal CARES Act if they do not file a form to receive it by October 15, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
“The CARES act payments provide a much-needed boost to families trying to pay rent and put food on the table during this unprecedented health and economic crisis,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of the non-partisan Florida Policy Institute. “Florida leaders must work to ensure hundreds of thousands of residents don’t miss out on this relief for their families and our community.”
Reaching and enrolling Floridians who are eligible for this payment is an important step in building an anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive economic recovery that extends to all people. Facing structural barriers like wealth and income disparities, inadequate access to health care, and racial discrimination built into the health system, communities of color and people who are experiencing poverty are being hit the hardest by the COVID-19 public health emergency and recession.
The payments are considerable, both for the recipients and by other standards of assistance. The IRS, working with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, has been automatically delivering these payments to tens of millions of people who regularly file federal income taxes or receive certain federally administered benefits. But the automatic payment method misses about 12 million people nationally —including people of color, children whose parents are paid low wages, people without secure housing, and others — because they aren’t required to file federal income tax returns due to their low incomes and they do not participate in one of those specified, federally administered programs.
The outstanding payments amount to roughly $742 million for Floridians, which — if delivered and spent — would help people who are struggling to make ends meet and give state and local economies a much-needed boost.
Governors and other state leaders can play a central role in reaching eligible individuals with low income, roughly 3 in 4 of whom participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid, which states and counties administer. States and localities will also need to reach out to people eligible for payments who may be outside the reach of SNAP and Medicaid. This could include people who are experiencing job or earnings loss, housing insecurity, or homelessness. Stimulus checks do not count against Medicaid, SNAP, or cash assistance eligibility.
“We strongly urge Governor DeSantis to implement a robust outreach program, which will help families struggling through these tough times and jumpstart the economy,” added Knight.
FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.