HARRISBURG – Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) voted in favor of a COVID-19 relief bill today that will provide critical assistance to restaurants, schools, employers, and tenants impacted by the pandemic. The bill drew bipartisan support and is on its way to Governor Wolf to be signed into law.
Senate Bill 109 includes a $145 million program for counties to provide grants to restaurants, taverns and hospitality businesses affected by Governor Wolf’s arbitrary and burdensome restrictions. The grants, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, would be prioritized for recipients who have suffered the most serious financial impacts of the pandemic and have not already received a loan or grant from the state or federal government.
The program was included in the bill as part of an amendment that Stefano authored.
“Restaurants and bars have faced some of the most severe restrictions throughout the pandemic, and many of these decisions were based purely on guesswork and not on science,” Stefano said. “These businesses have gone above and beyond to comply with the governor’s orders and operate safely. They need our support now more than ever.”
Funding for the program comes from a transfer from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund.
The bill also dedicates federal funding for rental and utility assistance ($569.8 million) and education ($197 million). Each county would receive a proportionate share of funding from the new Rental and Utility Assistance Grant Program, which would make rental and utility payments directly to lessors or utility companies on behalf of applicants.
The legislation also includes a $150 million competitive grant program to assist non-public schools that have been impacted by the pandemic and have not received government assistance.
In addition, the bill supports:
- $20 million for Career and Technical Centers.
- $14 million for Community Colleges.
- $8.075 million for charter schools for the deaf and blind and approved private schools.
- $5 million for the State System of Higher Education to support its restructuring initiative.
Senate Bill 109 also ensures COVID-19 stimulus checks and forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government are not taxable by state and local governments.
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