Over the past 18 months of the health and financial crises stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, stimulus checks have become as much a local story as a national one. There’s certainly a national element to the question of when and whether Americans will get a new stimulus check, which would amount to a fourth wave of such payments since March of 2020. Democrat Senators, for example, have been calling on President Biden to get behind the approval of a fourth stimulus check, while the IRS finishes up the distribution of the third wave of checks and also prepares to start issuing an all-new type of payment — federal child tax credit checks, which start July 15.
There’s also a local aspect, however, to all of this, with states and municipalities deciding here and there to add whatever they want to do for their citizens on top of any stimulus for the federal government. We’ve written about some examples of this already, including in California where Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a $9.6 billion relief package that funded an estimated 5.7 million stimulus checks — $600 direct payments to lower-income Californians as well as those who were “unfairly excluded from previous federal stimulus payments.” And here’s another example to add to the list.
The city of Trenton, New Jersey, is getting almost $73 million from the federal government following the passage in March of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — legislation that’s divvying up $390 billion to municipalities across the US.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora’s idea is to take $15 million of that $73 million coming to the city and use that to give out $500 stimulus checks to the 28,000 households in his city. “We felt this was a good way to help people catch up on their rent, catch up on their utility bills, make a down payment on their property taxes,” Gusciora told reporters on Thursday. “We get it that a lot of people are in dire times and it’s difficult for them to get back on their feet after a year of being in the pandemic.”
It doesn’t seem to be a done deal yet, however, since Trenton City Council Vice President Marge Caldwell-Wilson has told reporters that $500 might not be the right amount for the checks. “I’m not sure what $500 is going to do to relieve some of our citizens with what they’ve endured during this COVID crisis,” Caldwell-Wilson said, according to NJ.com. “Even if they applied that $500 to their property taxes, that only covers a portion of it.”
That statement does, however, seem to ignore the fact that those same city residents very likely already received $3,200 from the federal government thus far, thanks to the three waves of stimulus checks that have already been sent out. The first two, for up to $1,200 and $600, were distributed last year under President Trump, while President Biden signed into law a relief package that included funding for $1,400 stimulus checks.