To: OAPSE Members
From: Executive Director Joe Rugola
Re: Updates on CDL, Stimulus, Unemployment, Additional Funding for State, Local and School Budgets
OAPSE continues to communicate with the office of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Education and other agencies relevant to the work of our members.
We are pleased that through the actions of the governor, so many OAPSE members continue on the payrolls of school districts and agencies across Ohio, and we will continue to work to ensure that your pay and benefits are not interrupted.
Of course, many of you are working during this health crisis — preparing and delivering meals to hungry students and families; maintaining buses used for delivery; deep cleaning and disinfecting schools and buildings and keeping them running; helping to prepare lessons and remotely teach students; caring for developmentally disabled children and adults; and facilitating online learning at community colleges.
This critical work could not happen without you, and we are very proud of the commitment and dedication you have shown during this health crisis.
Be assured that the role OAPSE members are playing in the response to the COVID-19 health emergency is not going unnoticed. We are hearing appreciation for your efforts from local, state and federal leaders as we work with them to address the ongoing funding needs of vital public services like those we provide. And we will continue to press for additional stimulus money to states, local governments and education to lesson any negative impact on OAPSE members.
Unemployment Compensation Program
Most OAPSE members continue to be paid and receive benefits as a result of our work with the governor’s office and ODE. However, some agencies have laid off or furloughed OAPSE members. Those members – who are not being paid as a result of a layoff or furlough – are eligible for expanded unemployment insurance benefits from the state as part of the CARES Act championed by Senator Sherrod Brown and passed overwhelmingly in Congress.
The CARES Act creates a new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) program to provide temporary unemployment compensation of $600 a week from the federal government. This $600 is in addition to existing state benefits for all eligible workers. These additional benefits can last up to four months through July 31, 2020.
For detailed questions and answers about the new Unemployment Compensation program, click here and here.
And you can go directly to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services – where our sisters and brothers at OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 provide assistance — by clicking here.
Direct Payments to Families
Most OAPSE members can expect a stimulus check as part of the CARES Act. Most individuals will receive $1,200, and most married couples will get $2,400. Also, households will receive $500 for each dependent under the age of 17. For more information on exactly how much you can expect, click here for the AFSCME Fact Sheet.
And when can you expect your stimulus direct payment? That depends. If you have filed your 2018 or 2019 taxes and provided the IRS with direct deposit information for your bank, the payment will go directly into your account in the next few weeks, according to the federal government. However, if you have not filed taxes or you have elected to receive paper checks for your IRS refunds, you will have to wait for your stimulus money. Paper checks or debit cards will go out closer to August, the feds have said.
To speed up delivery, you can still file your 2019 taxes and provide direct deposit information. And the IRS says it is developing a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail. Keep checking https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus for updates on the portal.
OAPSE continues to be in close contact with the Ohio Department of Education about licensing requirements for our members. The latest information about CDL testing is that current T-8 physicals required to be a bus driver are valid through August 31st for any current driver hired before January 1, 2020. We continue to work with ODE to find a solution to the current inability of these drivers to complete the T-8 physical, including extending the deadlines for physicals.
For any driver hired after January 1, 2020, the physical remains valid for the remainder of this school year and all of next school year.
The ODE is looking at the entire school bus training process and will be in touch with us about the required steps our members must take moving forward. The governor’s team has pledged to work with us to make sure that schools have certified drivers and that the appropriate systems are in place to ensure that.
We will continue to update you on information about this health emergency and how it impacts you and your family. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your local president and your field representative.