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Locals chime in on the anticipated COVID-19 relief package

Posted at 9:10 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 22:10:58-05

KILLEEN, TX — After months of debate on Capitol Hill, lawmakers have agreed on a coronavirus relief package worth nearly $900 billion. If passed, it’ll be music to many Texans ears, as the state’s unemployment rate continues to rise.

Many Americans questioned whether or not another round of stimulus was on its way. Now, it’s a Christmas miracle for some, as Congress votes on the legislation Monday.

It’s a decision that many feel will benefit Central Texas communities.

Working at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Texas, Anthony Simmons sees a lot, but this year opened his eyes to the effects a pandemic can have on an already struggling family.

“A lot of plans have changed. So many people have worked so hard to reach a certain goal for it to come out a different picture,” Simmons said. “This stimulus package is basically a seed for their future, a seed that can be planted to produce such a great harvest.”

That seed is an expected extra $600 for most individuals, additional unemployment benefits and more funding for small businesses, schools and COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

“Delayed does not mean denied,” Simmons said. “So for them [Congress] to take the time to actually work through it and work past their differences to create opportunities for everybody to get back to a place that it was and to exceed beyond that place is truly a blessing.”

The package comes just in time for some Texans, with millions across the state still filling out unemployment applications.

Here in Central Texas though, officials told 25 News that the unemployment rate has been decreasing since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It probably won’t be until… summer before we kind of start seeing things get back to a little normal and those areas are allowed to open up 100% and start serving customers,” said Charley Ayres, the Director of Industry and Education Partnerships at Workforce Solutions of Central Texas.

He also mentioned that jobs are plentiful in Central Texas right now, it’s just a question of matching it with the right candidate.

“The real challenge is getting people connected to the right job at the right time and at the right place,” Ayres said. “That’s what we’ll continue to try to do.”

But for many, these expected bonuses are a step in the right direction.

“To see the dynamic change in the household is definitely a progression forward,” Simmons said, recalling a struggling family he has helped at the Boys and Girls Club. “Because it’s definitely time to progress forward, not remain in the same place that we’ve been at the start of this year in March.”

As of publication, the House has voted to approve the relief bill. Following a vote from the Senate, it will make its way to President Trump's desk to be signed.