PROVIDING RELIEF FOR WORKING PEOPLE IN A TIME OF CRISIS
The Pennsylvania CARES Plan offers a set of spending priorities to best use the $3.9 billion in federal CARES ACT funding the commonwealth is set to receive. A major focus of the PA CARES Plan is funding initiatives that help individuals and families, such as housing assistance programs, student debt relief, veterans’ assistance, utility assistance, and food bank support.
Other aspects of the proposal include allocating additional assistance to frontline workers, funding for the health care industry and its workers, small business grants, and much-needed support communities disparately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts and local governments would also receive support to help offset pandemic-related expenses.
The Senate Democrats’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains focused on helping working people, families and Pennsylvania’s small businesses. Members of the caucus have a number of proposals to address COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts in Pennsylvania.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are we announcing?
What are the restrictions on the use of CARES Act Fund?
Can Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars be used to close the looming budget deficit?
How much does your proposal spend? What areas do you focus on?
Our proposal allocates approximately $3.9 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund over the following 10 areas:
Individuals/Families $1.1 billion
School Districts/Local Government $750 million
Health Care, First Responder & Frontline Workers $650 million
Small Business $425 million
Historically Disadvantaged Communities $300 million
Higher Education $250 million
Child Care/Early Education $150 million
State Government Infrastructure $100 million
Agriculture $25 million
Election Security $25 million
The proposal also allocates $100 million from education-related funds for K-12 schools for expenses related to shifting to distance learning, including costs of equipment.
How did you determine priorities for funding?
What form will the financial assistance take?
Have other federal funds been allocated in the areas you have prioritized?
What is included under each of your 10 categories?
Individuals/Families: Funding for housing assistance (including, homelessness, domestic violence, mortgage assistance, landlords, and legal services), student debt assistance, utility bill assistance, veterans assistance, and food banks
School Districts/Local Government: Funding for school district costs, including special education, and county and municipal government costs related to COVID-19.
Health Care: Funding for our safety net, including high Medicaid hospitals, Long-term Care facilities, and Community Health Centers. Funding is also provided for comprehensive testing, tracing and tracking of COVID-19 and for our frontline workers, including hazard pay, post-traumatic stress treatment. First responders also receive funding.
Small Business: Grants to small business, nonprofits and specific sectors of the small business economy that have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Historically Disadvantaged Communities: Black and brown communities are being ravaged by COVID-19. Education, testing and tracing are need in these communities. In addition, businesses in these communities have been largely unsuccessful in securing federal small business funds. Funding to address nutrition and access to fresh foods and vegetables will be provided along with emergency funding for the commonwealth’s two (2) Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Child Care/Early Education: Our child-care and Pre-K operators are struggling to maintain operations. These stresses will only increase as the economy starts to gradually re-open and parents go back to work.
State Government Infrastructure: Clearly there have been some issues with agency responses to COVID-19. We need to upgrade our infrastructure to address COVID-19 and future events that may strain our systems.
Agriculture: Grants to ensure that our food supply chain can continue to function.
Election Security: Funding to ensure that the June 2 primary election and the November general election are conducted in a safe and secure manner.
Have you discussed these priorities with the Wolf Administration or the other caucuses?
Yea, what about the FY 20-21 budget?
Good question. Appropriations Committee staffs and the Budget Office have had preliminary discussions. No decisions have been made or timelines for action set. Certainly, a lot will depend on revenue collections. As mentioned, The Trump Administration for the most part has prohibited Coronavirus Relief Funds from being used to replace state and local tax revenues.
Even if Coronavirus Relief Funds could be used to fill our budget hole, or if another round of federal stimulus funding for state and local governments comes from Washington D.C., these are one-time funds. The IFO has projected that the permanent revenue loss in tax revenue for the commonwealth to be approximately $2.7 billion for FY 20-21 and 21-22. We need to be careful of using one-time revenues to plug recurring revenue holes. We also should not repeat the mistakes of the past by relying on massive budget cuts to fix our problems. That was the route taken coming out of the Great Recession in 2011 and the impacts were devastating on the commonwealth and its residents.
Our Members at Work
Senators Jim Brewster & Pam Iovino Propose $100 Million COVID-19 Grant Program & Financial Relief Package for PA Restaurants & Taverns
Allegheny County, PA – July 23, 2020 – Today, State Senators Jim Brewster and Pam Iovino announced a comprehensive proposal to provide emergency relief to Pennsylvania’s restaurants and taverns, which have seen significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown. The seven-point plan includes a $100 million grant program to retail liquor licensees using federal CARES Act funds, as well as a suite of policy changes to financially benefit these struggling businesses.
Sens. Hughes, Haywood join PHFA to announce upcoming financial assistance program for renters and homeowners hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic
PHILADELPHIA— July 1, 2020 — State Senators Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) and Director Robin Wiessmann from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) announced a new program that will help renters and...
HARRISBURG – June 8, 2020 – Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus announced the direction of $225 million in federal CARES Act funding to aid small businesses across the commonwealth. This funding was authorized by the recently enacted COVID-19...
HARRISBURG — June 5, 2020 — State Senators Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), John Blake (D-Lackawanna), and Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia touted the $30 million in funding the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus was...
Harrisburg – May 29, 2020 – State Senator Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) announced that the Pennsylvania House and Senate passed his housing relief plan with $193 million on May 28. The Governor has agreed to sign this legislation. “I am happy to...
Philadelphia PA – May 29, 2020 – On Thursday, Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) and Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) successfully secured $175 million in rental and mortgage assistance, a measure included in the temporary 5 month budget featuring...
Allegheny County, PA – May 28, 2020 – Pennsylvania State Senator Pam Iovino (D – Allegheny & Washington), released the following statement today after voting to support the passage of a $26 billion interim budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including...
Harrisburg – May 28, 2020 – Sen. Anthony Williams (D- Philadelphia/Delaware) announced that the Pennsylvania Senate has passed Senate Bill 1108 which allocates $2.602 billion of federal CARES Act for Pennsylvania. “These funds were given to Pennsylvania through the...
Senator Costa Supports 5-Month State Budget, Fully Funding Education and Spending State’s Federal Cares Money
Harrisburg, Pa. − May 28, 2020 – Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. today voted in support of House Bill 2387, a General Appropriations bill that funds state operations through November, and fully funding education through the entire fiscal year. The bill passed...
SCRANTON, May 28, 2020 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today released the following statement regarding passage of a $25.789 billion interim state budget that accounts for five months of spending for most appropriations. The interim budget fully...
Harrisburg, PA − May 22, 2020 − Senators Jay Costa, Vince Hughes, John Blake, Jim Brewster and Pam Iovino today called for $550 million of funds allocated to Pennsylvania through the federal CARES act to be used for a program they are calling the Main Street Business...
PA State Senate Unanimously Passes Legislation to Provide $538 Million in CARES Act Funding for Nursing & Long-Term Care Facilities and Fire & EMS Grants
Legislation Includes Senators Iovino & Kearney Amendment to Allow Volunteer Firefighter Relief Association Funds to be Used for COVID-19 Expenses Harrisburg, PA – May 13, 2020 – Yesterday evening, the Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1122,...
Schwank Proposal Exempting CARES Act Payments from Disqualifying Pennsylvanians from State Assistance Programs Approved by Senate Finance Committee
Harrisburg, May 11, 2020 Legislation proposed by state Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11th district) that would ensure Pennsylvanians who receive federal stimulus payments don’t lose state related benefits because of an increase in income received unanimous support from...
HARRISBURG – APRIL 29, 2020 – State Senators Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) unveiled the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus’ plan to allocate federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds Wednesday...