On Sept. 30, Republican members of the Frontline Workers Bonus Pay Working Group proposed their plan to provide bonuses to those who took the most risk to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Frontline workers across the state put themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe and healthy during the pandemic - they deserve our gratitude and support,” state Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, said in a news release. “The Legislature was tasked with allocating a limited amount of funding, and our plan prioritizes the healthcare workers that put their lives on the line and had the greatest exposure to COVID positive patients. It’s time for the governor to call us back into special session so we can disperse these important funds.”
The proposal includes $1,200 in bonus pay for nurses, first responders, corrections officers, long-term care workers, and hospice providers. To be eligible, the workers couldn’t work from home, needed to have received less than one month of unemployment, and worked a minimum of 1,200 hours between March and December of 2020, or about 30 hours a week. There is no income cap on the proposal, and an application process would be used to provide bonus pay as soon as the application is approved.
Composed of three senators and six representatives, the working group’s duty was to make a recommendation for the disbursement of $250 million federal dollars in direct financial support to frontline workers, including the crucial long-term care workers that served the state’s most vulnerable citizens during peak COVID stages.
The working group met eight times and heard from dozens of testifiers across many professions affected by COVID-19. The working group discussed at length the merits of each profession and what amount of bonus pay would impact the recipients.