Local aid program proposed for families left out of CARES Act
Families with young adult dependents and individuals with disabilities may receive a one-time payment of $500 each in Covid-19 relief aid under a bill that proposes a $10-million locally funded program.
Bill 367-35, titled "Ayuda I Mangafa’ Help For Families Program Act or AIM Act, would authorize the governor to transfer $10 milion to the Department of Revenue and Taxation, which would administer the proposed program. The fund would come from the general and special funds.
The bill's author, Sen. Amanda Shelton, said the proposed program seeks to provide direct cash assistance to Guam households that were left out of the federal stimulus package under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which provides $1,200 to each eligible U.S. resident and $500 per child under 17 years of age.
Shelton note that it is common for families on Guam to support young adult children pursuing their post-high school education and carry them as dependents for tax purposes. Yet thousands of families have not received a cash stimulus payment for dependents age 16 and over.
By Shelton’s count about 4,000 students in the Department of Education and nearly another 4,000 students at the Guam Community College and University of Guam are qualified dependents of their parents. Many other families also care for and carry as dependents adult relatives with disabilities.
“These families were overlooked or excluded by law from the earlier federal stimulus package. ‘Ayuda I Mangafa’ Help For Families Program corrects that,” Shelton said.
The payment would go to the head of household.
"The ‘Ayuda I Mangafa’ Help For Families Program embodies Guam’s value of supporting our family units and leaving no one behind," according to a press release from Shelton's office.
“In these uncertain times family is more important than ever,” Shelton said. “We all understand the call for us to take care of one another and we cannot leave anyone behind.”
Five of Shelton’s colleagues have signed on as ‘Ayuda I Mangafa’ co-sponsors. The Freshman Senator from Asan calls it a textbook example of how government should serve the people.
“In April our office received a call from a woman named Rose. She was concerned for her granddaughter, a graduating senior in the Class of 2020. Rose was worried that because of the economic impact of the Covid pandemic the family would not be able to bridge the gap to send their recent high school graduate on to college.
"After that call and hearing similar stories on our morning talk shows, I knew Rose and her family were not alone. It was very clear that there must be thousands of families in the same boat. This is the least we can do to support our manhoben and mangafa at this time.”
‘Ayuda I Mangafa’ Help For Families Program will be administered by the Department of Revenue Taxation.