Episode 47 is all about this relief money folks have been promised. Where's that unemployment? That stimulus money? That small business relief? That food assistance?
We hear from Lindsay Cutler from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty about a suddent deadline the IRS announced for people getting federal benefits—who haven't filed taxes in the last couple of years—to fill out an online form to get $500 in stimulus funds for their children. The deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22, at 10 a.m. MST. More on that story here. And here's a link to the form the IRS is looking for.
We also hear from massage therapist and KUNM DJ Jered Ebenreck about his struggles to get unemployment as a self-employed person.
And we ask questions about those problems for the Department of Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley. And we also hear from Russell Wyrick, the executive director of New Mexico's Small Business Development Center about those small business relief funds that were supposed to be coming through. The national fund dried up last week, but Congress passed a bill tonight to replenish it, and Trump is expected to sign it.
We checked in with Karmela Martinez, the director of the state's Income Support Division, about extra food assistance (SNAP benefits) people around the state are receiving.
And as funds run low, we’ve started seeing groups across the country protesting state shutdowns, despite the continuing spread of the coronavirus and climbing death toll. The issue’s been heavily politicized and divisive. A group called Take Back New Mexico on Monday began calling for the state to reopen. and it’s supported by the state’s Republican Party, according to one of its organizers, O'rion Perry, who spoke with KUNM's Nash Jones. So far, state’s GOP declined to confirm or deny support. Chairman Steve Pearce abruptly canceled an interview with KUNM yesterday.
UPDATE, 4/22/20, 2:00 p.m.: Steve Pearce, chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, says the party was not contacted by O’Rion Perry and did not participate in or endorse Take Back New Mexico’s call for businesses to violate the shutdown order.
Pearce said Wednesday Perry is, “putting words into our mouth.” KUNM did reach out to the Republican Party several times on Monday and Tuesday about whether the state’s GOP was backing the effort, as Perry told KUNM in an interview. Pearce’s spokesperson canceled a Monday interview at the last minute.
We’ll have more on the GOP's position shortly in an upcoming KUNM story and on Thursday's episode.
And news from Tuesday 4/21: The state is demanding that all health insurance carriers cover the costs of any out-of-network treatment that results from COVID-19, effective immediately, according to a news release. And any surprise bills might result in a fine.
Today, there are 2,072 confirmed coronavirus cases in New Mexico, and the death toll reached 65. There are 119 people hospitalized in the state today for COVID-19.
We're keeping a complete list of the resources and volunteer opportunities that we find for each episode at bit.ly/YNMGhub. And here's what we got from today.
- If you are in need of help or information from the Small Business Administration, find local assistance here.
- For information on SNAP benefits, here's the link, or call 800-283-4465
- To get enrolled for unemployment in New Mexico, here's where to start.
- And if you have kids or know someone who does (and if you get federal benefits and didn't file a tax return in the last couple of years) and you want to meet the deadline of 10 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22, but you have questions, head to the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.
How are things going for you? We want to know. Share your quarantine stories by calling: (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We could roll them into a future episode.
Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the New Mexico Local News Fund.