Tartaglione, PA Senate Democrats Unveil $4 Billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Plan
PA CARES 21 would assist families, workers, businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, first responders, local governments, and other entities that have been devastated financially by the pandemic.
Philadelphia, PA – December 4, 2020 − State Senator Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) and her colleagues in the PA Senate Democratic Caucus today unveiled a new $4 billion COVID-19 relief and recovery plan that would provide resources directly to Pennsylvania families, workers, businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, first responders, local governments, and other entities that have been devastated financially by the pandemic.
Known as the Pennsylvania Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act of 2021 (PA CARES 21), the proposal follows up on the original PA CARES plan that was developed by the Democratic Caucus in October, but was excluded from the Fiscal Year 2021 Supplemental Budget adopted by the Republican-led General Assembly on November 20th.
“Funding for all of these needs was included in our prior PA CARES proposal – a proposal that Republican leadership in the General Assembly dismissed,” Senator Tartaglione said during a video news conference hosted by the Democratic Caucus. “Instead, they used the $1.3 billion in federal CARES Act funding to balance the state budget. That’s why I voted against the budget.”
In her remarks, Senator Tartaglione highlighted three key areas of need among many: funding for high-volume Medicaid hospitals; higher education; and small, independent businesses, particularly restaurants, taverns, caterers, and the hospitality industry.
“Hospitals that serve a high volume of Medicaid-insured patients have borne a very heavy burden during the pandemic,” Senator Tartaglione said. “COVID-19 has affected minority and low-income communities disproportionately. Facilities like Temple Hospital and Einstein Medical Center have seen the highest share of COVID patients and have the highest share of Medicaid patients. They are providers of last resort. They serve patients that have nowhere else to go.”
The PA CARES 21 plan would allocate $100 million to high-Medicaid volume hospitals.
“Higher education is another priority,” Senator Tartaglione said. “Pennsylvania’s colleges, universities, and vocational schools are experiencing declining enrollment. They have also lost income from student housing, meals, and other on-campus expenditures.”
The PA CARES 21 plan would distribute $136 million among State System of Higher Education and state-supported universities, community colleges, and career-technical colleges, as well as the Institutional Assistance Grant (IAG) Program.
It would also allocate $800 million for business assistance, including $300 million exclusively for restaurants, taverns, caterers, and the hospitality industry.
“These businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, our commercial districts, our tourism, and our economy,” Senator Tartaglione said. “They employ hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians and have been decimated by COVID mitigation policies like occupancy restrictions and bans on indoor service.”
“Meanwhile, their financial obligations continue to pile up. They are taking on massive debt just to keep the lights on and keep enough staff in place to prepare for the day when they can start rebuilding their businesses again. They are doing everything they can to improve health protections for patrons and staff. We have an obligation to make them whole.”
PA CARES 21 would authorize the Commonwealth to issue $4 billion in emergency debt to recapitalize programs previously funded with federal CARES funds and establish new programs that provide targeted assistance to struggling Pennsylvanians and struggling sectors of the economy. In addition, the Caucus supports fixing programs created by Act 24 of 2020 (the PA Housing Finance Agency’s rental assistance program) as requested by stakeholders to maximize program effectiveness.
PA CARES 21 identifies the following priorities and funding levels:
- $800 million in business assistance
- $1 billion in Unemployment Compensation benefits
- $594 million in local government assistance
- $135 million in hazard pay to frontline workers
- $318 million in Human Services programs
- $250 million in basic education
- $136 million in higher education
- $100 million to high-volume Medicaid hospitals
- $100 million to utility assistance
- $75 million in childcare
- $100 million in housing assistance
- $50 million in food security
- $25 million in pre-k education
- $25 million for PPE and vaccines
- $15 million for mental health funding
- $180 million in transportation funding
More information on the proposal and the caucus’ work in pandemic relief is available online at pasenate.com/pacares.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact William Kenny at 215-533-0440 or William.Kenny@pasenate.com.