Pennsylvania’s state Senate unanimously approved Wednesday the $912M pandemic recovery aid bill aimed to schools, hospitality-related businesses hit hard by the coronavirus, and people with difficulties paying rent or utility bills.
The bill still requires to be approved by the state House of Representatives and Governor Tom Wolf.
Most of the $912 million targeted in the bill comes from Pennsylvania’s share of federal aid approved by Congress in a coronavirus recovery package it passed last month.
Some of it, $145 million, is reserve cash from a worker’s compensation fund that Wolf last month had asked lawmakers to send to businesses affected by the pandemic.
The money from the recovery aid bill would be available through counties in grants of up to $50,000 for bars, restaurants and hotel owners.
Despite the approval of the aid bill, Industry representatives said the money would be helpful for a time for those who receive it, but it will not reach many in Pennsylvania’s industry of more than 30,000 such businesses that are suffering and remain under pandemic restrictions.
Wolf’s office would not say whether the Democrat supports the bill, but said it would continue to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature on it.
“The governor’s office has been working with the General Assembly on the appropriation of these federal funds in an effort to find agreement to get this much needed relief out as quickly as possible,” Wolf’s office said in a statement.
Help people struggling
$570 million from the aid bill would be divided up among counties based on population to help people struggling to pay rent or utilities.
Landlords and tenants would be eligible to apply, with priority under federal guidelines for lower-income households or those where someone is unemployed.
The rest of the money, $197 million, would be distributed to educational institutions that did not get a cut of the $2.2 billion in federal coronavirus aid that public schools and charter schools are receiving under last month’s federal coronavirus recovery package. Most of that money would go to private schools.