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.