The state’s unemployment insurance trust fund will be replenished and federal loans repaid with $2.7 billion, and $500 million is directed to frontline workers “whose work put them at risk of contracting COVID-19 during the peacetime emergency declared by the governor.”
Minnesota’s unemployment insurance trust fund – used to partially replace wages when people lose their job due to no fault of their own – went into the red during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the remainder of American Rescue Plan funds and General Fund money, the state will repay the amount borrowed from the federal government and refill the coffers without requiring employers to pay increased payroll taxes. Employers who already paid their first quarter taxes will get a refund/credit.
The Department of Employment and Economic Development estimated 667,000 workers whose job put them at greater risk for contracting COVID will be eligible to receive up to $1,500 depending on the number of applicants. This payment will not be subject to state taxes or effect eligibility for state benefits. Among those eligible are people who worked in health care, emergency response, long-term care, child care, grocery, food service, janitorial services and manufacturing.
Among eligibility requirements, an employee must: have worked at least 120 hours in the state in one or more of the frontline sectors between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021; not have been able to telework during those hours due to the nature of their job; have worked in close proximity to individuals outside of their household; meet an income requirement; and not have received more than 20 cumulative weeks of unemployment insurance benefits.
The law also provides a onetime $190 million appropriation for state “COVID-19 management costs incurred between May 23, 2022, and February 15, 2023, for testing, vaccinations, COVID-19 outbreak management, local and Tribal health, public education, and health system supports.” A special legislative panel must approve any single expenditure of more than $2.5 million.
Most of the new law, sponsored by Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr. (DFL-Winona) and Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), took effect April 30, 2022.