HARRISBURG – The Senate today approved a comprehensive $912 million relief measure to help restaurants, schools, employers, and tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Senator Scott Martin (R-13), who supported the bill.
Senate Bill 109 allocates $569.8 million for Rental and Utility Assistance, $197 million for education programs, and $145 million to support Pennsylvania’s struggling hospitality industry as it copes with the devastation created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor’s mandated closings and restrictions.
A transfer of $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund to the COVID-19 Response Restricted Account would provide county block grants to assist the hospitality industry, including restaurants, bars and hotels.
Grants would be provided in increments of $5,000 up to $50,000 and may not be used to pay for the same operating expenses already covered by a federal PPP loan or the state’s prior $225 million Small Business Assistance Program.
Martin sponsored similar legislation last year to support Pennsylvania restaurants, bars, and businesses in the tourism and hospitality industries that were struggling due to Governor Wolf’s restrictions.
“Small employers in the restaurant and hospitality industry have been devastated by the governor’s restrictions and shutdowns, and many of them are struggling just to continue operating,” Martin said. “This bill offers a way to keep many of these businesses running so they can not only survive in the weeks and months ahead, but also to thrive in the future. I am happy to see this measure moving forward.”
Federal funding for rental and utility assistance would be proportionally distributed to counties based on their population. The conditions set under Senate Bill 109 for the program are to ensure the funding is used prudently and responsibly with the intention of providing a financial safety net for tenants and landlords.
The $197 million for education, which is also supported by federal funding, would be used to create a $150 million competitive grant program under the Department of Education to assist non-public schools that have been impacted by the pandemic and have not received government assistance.
The remaining $47 million would provide: $17.5 million for Career and Technical Centers; $17.5 million for Intermediate Units; $7.075 million for charter schools for the deaf and blind and approved private schools; and, $5 million for the State System of Higher Education to support its restructuring initiative.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Terry Trego firstname.lastname@example.org