Workers, businesses take closer look at new stimulus package

Thousands of workers and employers in the Tampa Bay area are taking a close look at the new stimulus package and the reaction is mixed.

There’s $600 less per person than the checks issued with the last stimulus. Also, millions of dollars for local governments included last time isn’t in this one.

"I was hoping for a full $1,200," says Michaela Broussard, "but at least it’s something. I’m going to use it to pay my bills, maybe get an upgrade on my car."

Broussard is a barista by day and a student by night. Her employer, Robert Torres, owner of Blind Tiger Coffee Roasters, can now apply for another round of PPP small business loan funds under the new stimulus plan which is awaiting the president’s signature.

"It was a relief because a lot of people are going to get help," says Torres. "But it was a disappointment because there is this restaurant act that we’ve been working on for the past nine months."

Torres says the legislation would help minority-owned restaurants and workers economically devastated by the pandemic.

Critics say Congress's last-minute effort to pass a spending bill falls short. 

"The GOP-controlled Senate and Mitch McConnell just refused to help local communities like the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County," says US Rep. Kathy Castor, (D- Tampa).

In the package back in March, Hillsborough and Tampa got more than $200 million for uses such as helping residents pay rent and utility bills.

Despite the pandemic and what's going on in Washington, some businesses are holding their own in the pandemic economy.

"We haven’t decided whether we want another loan or need another loan at this point in time," says Alex Prieto, owner of New Age Reprographics, which prints blueprints and other graphics for the construction industry. "Things are steady and looking good. We have not had to let any employees go."

Elsewhere, many have lost their jobs. The stimulus package provides $300-a-week federal unemployment insurance starting December 26, which for some can be added to Florida's up-to $275 unemployment money.

With non-profits stretching resources to feed the hungry, the package contains a 15% increase in funds for EBT. There’s also money for local school districts. Hillsborough County gets more than $200 million to help with lower enrollments and less tax money collected.