Senate Approves $912 Million COVID-19 Relief Package

HARRISBURG, PA– The Pennsylvania State Senate has unanimously approved a comprehensive $912 million relief package to help restaurants, schools, employers and tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne.

 “The State Senate has taken an extraordinary step to provide relief and recovery for individuals and businesses who have borne the overwhelming brunt of the economic damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Senator Browne said. “This comprehensive package specifically expedites relief to the hard-hit hospitality and restaurant industries and extends a lifeline to renters who have fallen behind in their payments due to economic hardship related to the pandemic. As the Commonwealth continues to respond to these unprecedented challenges, the legislation we passed today will have a far-reaching effect on the industries and families who have been impacted the most.”

Senate Bill 109, which was crafted by the Senate Appropriations Committee and Chairman Browne, had been previously passed unanimously by that committee on Tuesday (January 26).

The relief package amends the state Fiscal Code to allocate $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 shutdowns and restrictions. 

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. Funding for the Rental and Utility Assistance program would be provided by federal COVID-19 stimulus money as part of H.R. 133, Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021.

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.
  • $5 million for the State System of Higher Education to support its restructuring initiative.

The third component in the sweeping relief package would transfer $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund for the Hospitality Industry Recovery Program to 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. Grants 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.

Senate Bill109 has been sent to the State House of Representatives for their concurrence.

 

CONTACT:  Matt Moyer (610)-821-8468, mmoyer@pasen.gov