Minnesotans plan for expected federal relief payment

A person poses for a photo outside.
Mike Kolstad stands in a parking lot in Oakdale, Minn., on Dec. 22. The out-of-work chef welcomes the aid the latest stimulus bill would provide as he continues to search for a job.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Outside a dollar store in Oakdale, Minn., shoppers coming and going this week were well aware Congress finally agreed on a stimulus package.

Mike Kolstad welcomes his expected $600 relief payment. The out-of-work chef also stands to receive significantly enhanced unemployment benefits — an extra $300 a week according to the bill awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature.

“I’m glad because I’m unemployed because of COVID,” Kolstad said.

Kolstad said he’ll use the money to pay bills. He said he’ll keep looking for a job, but that the prospects of finding one don’t look good now.

Marie Sand was in the same parking lot in Oakdale.

“I think it’s a long-time coming [and] it’s well-deserved for the people that are unemployed,” Sand said.

Sand, a retiree who’s been battling cancer said she’ll use her money to help catch up on medical bills.  She said the money can’t come soon enough for struggling workers.

“I know it will really help my daughter and my grandson. They’ve been working limited hours,” Sand said.

Like President Trump and congressional Democrats, Pam Edwards says Americans should be getting thousands of dollars from their government, not hundreds.

A person poses for a photo outside.
Pam Edwards of Oakdale, Minn.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

“It’s not enough — how do they think we’re supposed to survive off of that?” Edwards asked.

Anne Rauen, who works at a grocery store, was one of several people with plans to share her relief money with those in more dire straits.

“It’s good for all of the people that need it,” Rauen said. “We’re lucky enough so I think we’re going to find a charity to help out and give it to them.”

In downtown Stillwater near the old lift bridge John Fax said he too plans to share his stimulus money.

A person poses for a photo outside.
In downtown Stillwater near the old lift bridge, John Fax say he too plans to share his stimulus money. “I could do without it.”
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

“I could do without it,” Fax said.

Fax said organizations that help the homeless and those who are food insecure will be his beneficiaries.

“You know there’s a lot more people worse off than I am,” he said. “I feel pretty grateful that I’ve been able to stick it out during the pandemic and not have to worry too much about anything.”

Fax added that Congress hardly deserves applause for finally coming to agreement.

“I worked in government for 35 years and I know how things can get held up like that, but I think it’s just unconscionable myself,” Fax said.

Molly Krakowski, who was on her way to a local restaurant to buy gift certificates, said she thinks the best way to help unemployed and under-employed people, many of them hospitality workers, would be to allow bars and restaurants to reopen.

A person poses for a photo outside.
Molly Krakowski, who was on her way to a local restaurant to buy gift certificates in Stillwater, Minn.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

“I don’t think the stimulus package is going to solve their problems,” said Krakowski, who’s self-employed She questions the logic of the federal government sending people like her hundreds of dollars. “I don’t need it.”

Retiree Brian Sweeny said he was not expecting a payment because of his income level. He said the extra unemployment is appropriate. Everyone, he said, should be banding together to help those out of work.

“In a way it’s a bit of a taking you know, you have to close down, [the] government says you have to close down so I think to close down they need some compensation for that,” Sweeny said.

A person poses for a photo outside.
Retiree Brian Sweeny says everyone should be banding together to help those out of work.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

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