Saint Paul, Minn. — Yesterday, the Minnesota House advanced a proposal to use a historic budget surplus to provide at least 667,000 frontline workers bonus checks of up to $1,500. Eligible frontline workers include first responders, nurses, child care providers, janitors and so many others who have sacrificed their health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Frontline workers made tremendous sacrifices that kept others safe and enabled essential services to continue. And they risked their own safety and livelihoods to do so,” said Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven), who voted in favor of the legislation. “They deserve hazard pay for their sacrifice during an unprecedented time.”
During the June 2021 special session, the DFL House and Republican Senate passed a compromise budget that included $250 million for frontline worker bonus pay and created a working group to make recommendations to the Legislature on how to distribute those resources. When Minnesota announced a historic $7.7 billion budget surplus in December 2021, Democrats increased the investment to deliver $1 billion in order to provide bigger bonus checks to all frontline workers.
The approved proposal includes the following occupations in the definition of a frontline worker: 1) long-term care and home care; 2) health care; 3) emergency responders; 4) public health, social service, and regulatory service; 5) courts and corrections; 6) child care; 7) public schools, including charter schools, state schools, and higher education; 8) food service, including production, processing, preparation, sale, and delivery; 9) retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution, and delivery; 10) temporary shelters and hotels; 11) building services, including maintenance, janitorial, and security; 12) public transit; 13) ground and air transportation services; 14) manufacturing; and 15) vocational rehabilitation.
In order to receive a bonus check, workers must meet the following individual eligibility requirements:
- was employed in one of the frontline sectors in MN for at least 120 hours from 3/15/20 to 6/30/21
- was not able to work remotely due to the nature of their work, and worked in close proximity to other individuals (not in the same household);
- meet income restrictions. For workers providing direct care to COVID patients, max income is $350,000 (joint filers) and $175,000 (single). For all other workers, the limits are $185,000 (joint) and $85,000 (single); and
- did not collect more than 20 weeks of unemployment benefits from 3/15/20 to 6/30/21.