Senator Browne Calls on Gov. Wolf to Release CARES Funding for Lebanon County Citizens

HARRISBURG, PA – Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne called on Governor Tom Wolf to immediately release to Lebanon County the $12.8 million in federal funding through a county block grant that was properly and legally appropriated to assist the residents of the county who have been greatly affected by this extraordinary pandemic. 

“The Governor does not have the authority to withhold funding that has been appropriated through legislation approved by the General Assembly and agreed to and signed into law by that same Governor,” Senator Browne said. “The legislation specifically required that the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development distribute those funds no later than July 15, 2020.

“The Governor has instead decided to penalize the citizens of Lebanon County by withholding vital funds that could help with small businesses that have been affected by the pandemic, individuals with mental health or substance use issues, non-profits and first responders in order to punish a few elected officials.”

Lebanon County would be the only county in Pennsylvania not to receive either a direct funding allotment from the federal government or funding through the CARES Act county block grant program.

“In signing Senate Bill 1108 as Act 2A of 2020, the Governor committed to spending those state dollars in accordance with that legislation. For the Governor to now decide he has the authority to withhold funding allocated in that act is a blatant disregard for the state’s appropriation process,” Senator Browne said.

Pursuant to Act 2A of 2020, the federal CARES Act funding general appropriations bill, $625 million was appropriated for the COVID Relief – County Block Grant program. Act 24 of 2020, also agreed to and signed by the Governor, is the federal CARES Act funding fiscal code, which required the $625 million appropriation to be distributed to each county on a proportionate population basis.

Under Act 2A and Act 24, Lebanon County was appropriated, based on its population of 141,793 residents, a block grant of $12.8 million. They are the only county allocated funding through those acts that has not received its funding by the date required by law.

Eligible uses for the county block grant funding include: offsetting costs of direct county emergency response; small business assistance; programs to support local economic development entities; assistance to cities, borough, towns or townships for costs related to the emergency, including planning; behavioral health and drug and alcohol abuse treatment services, nonprofit assistance programs; and broadband internet deployment.

“I am calling on Governor Wolf to reconsider his decision and allow the Department of Community and Economic Development to release that money – as is required by law – so that the people of Lebanon County can receive much needed aid as they, along with everyone in the Commonwealth, struggle to manage through a pandemic that none of us has ever seen and that has placed great health and financial stress on so many of our citizens,” Senator Browne said.

 

View Senator Browne’s floor remarks on the Governor’s decision to withhold funding for Lebanon County:

 

View Senator Browne’s concerns for Governor’s decisions on the appropriation of future CARES Act funding:

 

 

CONTACT: Matt Moyer – 610-844-8553, mmoyer@pasen.gov