Facing an uncertain economic future and working to address the devastating impact of COVID-19, the Senate today set a course for recovery by approving a $25.8 billion interim budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21, according to Senate Republicans leaders. The Senate also approved a plan to direct $2.6 billion in federal CARES funding to support individuals, small businesses, organizations and county governments that were most severely impacted by the virus.
Senate leaders offered the following statements on the budget and CARES funding:
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25): “Throughout the last 20 years that I have served in the General Assembly, our state has never been faced with such a great deal of fiscal uncertainty. The interim budget passed by the Senate today will help to provide our Commonwealth with stability during these challenging times. It is clear that the repercussions from Governor Wolf’s shutdown of the economy during the last several months necessitates a closer look at revenue impacts throughout the remainder of 2020. I am very pleased that the approved CARES funding will help address the needs of families and businesses who have been affected by COVID-19. We cannot forget to protect the livelihoods of Pennsylvanians while striving to protect lives. Senate Republicans will continue to work together to stand up for the hard working men and women of Pennsylvania.”
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34): “Today we took action that will keep the lights on. We had bipartisan support to bring some clarity during what is certainly an extremely uncertain time. We took action to fund critical state services and directed CARES money so we can help mitigate existing economic struggles. When the financial picture clears up, we will return and finish the job. This is what it means to govern.”
Senate Appropriations Chair Pat Browne (R-16):
Statement on Interim Budget Passage
“This interim five-month budget we passed today is the responsible approach to have taken given the still-to-be-determined financial implications/ramifications the Commonwealth, businesses and individuals are facing due to the COVID-19 health crisis and the stay-at-home order that limited business activity and state revenues and saw unemployment numbers reach heights never before seen in Pennsylvania history. To budget for a full year at this time without any ability to forecast revenue projections or to compare to similar previous experiences – since there are none – would be irresponsible/reckless and would potentially increase greatly the state’s financial imbalance for years to come. This interim budget provides funding to ensure our communities and citizens have access to vital programs and services over the next five months, while we develop a better understanding of the impacts the crisis has had on the state’s economy and revenues.”
Statement on CARES Act Funding Passage
“The release of this funding is a vital first step in providing the necessary resources to get our communities, businesses and all Pennsylvanians back on a path to recovery after the devastating COVID-19 health crisis. Funding from the CARES Act will provide necessary relief to county and local governments, community service providers, first responders, educational institutions, food banks and programs and services for the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, specifically those in nursing homes, all of which were directly affected by the COVID-19 virus.”
House Bill 2387 is an interim spending plan that provides five months of funding for most state agencies and services for FY 2020-21. 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.
Senate Bill 1108 appropriates a portion of Pennsylvania’s federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) funding for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding in the 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).