Senate Approves Budget/Comprehensive COVID-19 Funding Package

Legislation allocating a portion of Pennsylvania’s share of federal CARES funding for ventilator services received final approval today (May 28) and was sent to the Governor, according to Senator Dan Laughlin, who was a Senate leader in pushing for increased funding of that vital service.

The Senate also approved and sent to the Governor a short-term budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21 today, according to Senator Laughlin.

Senate Bill 1108 directs $2.6 billion in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) funding for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including $8 million for ventilator care.

“Even before the pandemic, a number of providers indicated that they might have to limit or even eliminate ventilation care if the Medicaid reimbursement issue was not addressed,” said Senator Laughlin, who joined with Senator Camera Bartolotta to introduce Senate Bill 959, which dedicates additional Medicaid funding to those facilities. “Pennsylvania’s ongoing war against COVID-19 has only amplified the need to maintain – if not increase – the availability of ventilator care in the Commonwealth. This $8 million appropriation is definitely a worthy use of the CARES money.”

The other appropriations in Senate Bill 1108 provide CARES funding to support individuals, small businesses, organizations and county governments that were most severely impacted by the virus.

“COVID-19 had an unprecedented impact all across the Commonwealth, straining community services and draining vital resources. The current challenge is to protect lives and livelihoods, to move forward and to rebuild our communities,” Senator Laughlin said. “Senate Bill 1108 provides essential relief and financial support to counties and community programs where the need is the greatest. We also took a major step in House Bill 1083 to protect property owners by authorizing the use of up to $300 million to help make up any potential shortfalls in state taxpayer relief payments created by the pandemic.”

Funding in the CARES package includes:

  • $692 million for long-term living services providers.
  • $625 million for counties that did not receive a direct subsidy from the federal government.
  • $260 million for providers of intellectual disability and autism services.
  • $225 million to help Pennsylvania’s small businesses recover.
  • $175 million to provide rent and mortgage assistance to low- and middle–income families impacted by the pandemic.
  • $150 million to help school districts meet the challenges created by COVID-19 through school safety and security funding.
  • $116 million for child-care services.
  • $72.2 million to support higher education students.
  • $50 million to support first responders.
  • $40 million for agricultural and food insecurity programs.
  • $28 million for community programs, including domestic violence programs ($10 million), homeless assistance ($10 million) and legal services ($8 million).
  • $20 million for Cultural and Museum organizations.

$9 million for early childhood education programs ($7 million for Pre-K Counts and $2 million for Head Start Supplemental Assistance).

The Senate also approved and sent to the Governor House Bill 2387, a $25.8 billion short-term budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21 that provides five months of funding for most state agencies and services. The appropriations in HB 2387 are based primarily on current funding for agencies and services in the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget, but allocated at a five-month level. Full-year funding is provided for a few select line items in HB 2387, notably for education and food security programs.

“We need to do everything in our power as a Commonwealth to get people back to work. The unprecedented number of workers idled by the pandemic shows how deeply this coronavirus impacted Pennsylvania families,” said Senator Laughlin. “It is only practical that we take a short-term approach with this budget. It gives us an opportunity to monitor our economic recovery while keeping a wary eye toward any potential recurrence of the pandemic.”

Contact:           Matt Azeles          (717) 787-8927

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