Gov. Ralph DLG Torres expressed his gratitude to President Donald J. Trump and the U.S. Congress for delivering urgent economic support to the CNMI by enacting the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act into law on March 27, 2020.
With the enactment of the CARES Act, the CNMI will receive more of the critical funding it needs to provide greater resources to first responders, support the islands’ affected workforce, and help rebuild the economy and support the government resources needed to fund necessary public services.
“In the CARES Act, the territories have the ability to access many of the funding sources available to the 50 states,” said Torres. “The new law supports the enhancement, modification and expansion of existing grant programs the CNMI currently avails of.”
Torres further noted that it also creates access to federal resources to stem the unanticipated costs of responding to the unprecedented global pandemic.
“Critical among these programs is the creation of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which appropriated $150 billion to states, tribal and local governments, and of which $3 billion is reserved for U.S. territories and the District of Columbia,” added Torres. “As the funds are based on population, the CNMI anticipates to receive approximately $38 million from this direct appropriation.”
The act also provides governors the resources to support struggling public education systems encumbered by this crisis. Torres looks forward to working with the Board of Education and the Public School System to make a timely application for support under this provision to ensure CNMI students receive the resources they need to succeed even as the community progresses through these difficult times.
Additionally, the act provides the CNMI access to the 2020 Recovery Rebates for Individuals. These are the so-called “stimulus checks.” Since the CNMI mirrors the Internal Revenue Code, payments will be made through the CNMI Treasury with an allowance for these expenses to be covered-back by the federal government to the CNMI Treasury.
• Individuals earning up to $75,000 will receive $1,200.
• Couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400.
• For every child in the household, you will receive $500.
• If you made more than $75,000, your payment will be reduced by $5 for every $100 of income that exceeds the limits. (Example, if you made $80,000 in 2019, you will receive $950.)
• The payment decreases to zero for an individual making $99,000 or more or a couple making $198,000 or more.
Additional guidance will be provided by the Office of the Governor on this program for residents of the Marianas soon.
“Through early analysis of the bill, my team and I already see many ways in which the CNMI community and its government will be supported by this third phase of relief,” said Torres. “We have already begun the process of securing agreements and submitting applications for programs through the Economic Development Administration and the Small Business Administration.”
“Lt. Gov. [Arnold I.] Palacios and I are grateful to the U.S. Congress and President Trump for their support of these efforts and we look forward to their continued engagement and support of the CNMI community, one of the hardest hit American communities as a result of the global outbreak of the COVID-19,” added Torres. (PR)