Govt. Affairs

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On Friday, December 4, the Pennsylvania Senate Democrats introduced a state-level $4 billion COVID-19 pandemic relief proposal.

The Democrats’ proposal — titled the “Pennsylvania Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2021,” or “PA CARES 21” for short — aims to fund existing pandemic relief programs and establish new ones by taking out emergency debt and tapping into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The proposal targets areas such as unemployment compensation, small business relief, education, and housing assistance.

If adopted, the Senate Democrats’ PA CARES 21 plan would fund the following by both allocating money toward existing programs and establishing new relief programs in previously unaddressed areas:

  • $1 billion in unemployment benefits;
  • $800 million in business assistance;
  • $594 million in local government assistance;
  • $411 million toward education (including higher education, Pre-K, and basic education);
  • $318 million toward Department of Human Services programs;
  • $180 million in transportation funding;
  • $135 million toward hazard pay;
  • $100 million in housing assistance;
  • $100 million toward hospitals;
  • $100 million in utility assistance;
  • $75 million toward child care;
  • $50 million toward food security efforts;
  • $25 million for personal protective equipment and vaccines; and
  • $15 million in mental health funding.

Senate Democrats hope to begin negotiating the details of the package as soon as possible, but it may experience heavy resistance from Senate Republicans, who have the majority in the Senate.

On Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) will host a webinar entitled Advocating for Addiction Reform.

This webinar will:

  • Walk through the process of how to contact your state and federal representatives.
  • Share effective ways to tell your story and advocate on behalf of yourself, your community, and your organization.
  • Provide updates on current legislation that will help advance addiction reform.
  • Highlight other partner organizations in the field and connect you with the larger statewide network.

Interested in partnering with Life Unites Us? Fill out the Become a Partner form on this page.

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They’re getting closer, but state budget negotiators haven’t quite reached a deal yet. Still, the word coming out of both General Assembly chambers is that the fiscal year 2020-2021 state budget should be wrapped up by Thursday.

State lawmakers have gotten a thumbs-up from the federal government to use the remaining $1.3 billion in CARES Act funding to offset General Fund budget items (mostly wages for front-line workers such as those of the Departments of Health and Corrections). This approval will make the process of finishing the final seven months of the 2020-2021 state budget easier (though some lawmakers, particularly Democrats, had a wish list of items – including support for front-line workers and businesses impacted by COVID-19 – on which to spend those dollars).

The CARES Act funding, along with an improved revenue situation, some money – maybe half – from the state’s $340 million Rainy Day Fund, a continuation of enhanced federal matching payments for the state’s Medicaid program (which lawmakers had initially thought would end), maybe a few targeted cuts, and possibly some dollars from a couple of state special funds, should close the budgetary gap left by the impact of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts to slow the virus spread, say those close to the budget discussions. Those same sources have said that increased spending will be limited, for the most part, to areas that involve mandatory spending, such as state debt payments and human services programs, with the rest of the budget changing little from the spending totals of the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget.

Source: Capitolwire: Under The Dome, November 18, 2020

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The state Senate met in a voting session on Monday with the Senate Appropriations Committee and then the full Senate as well as the state House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee advancing legislation that is expected to be part of the package of bills needed to complete Pennsylvania’s state budget of which there are still seven months for which to provide. Senate Bill 1350 is currently a supplemental appropriations bill for the 2020-2021 General Fund budget, a legislative vehicle that could be amended at some point – GOP staff remain hopeful that it will be this week – when budget conversations produce a final product. The bill was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee yesterday and has already had its first day of consideration by the full House, positioning it for potential amendment when the House is in voting session on Wednesday with the possibility of a final vote on Thursday. No solid details have emerged regarding the budget other than that it’s not likely to have too much additional spending beyond what was spent throughout the prior year given the state’s current fiscal situation due to COVID-19 and the mitigation policies pursued with the goal of slowing the spread of the virus. There could be some areas that see targeted spending cuts, though with the sizable amount of mandatory expenditures in Pennsylvania’s budget, areas that can be cut are limited.

Source: Capitolwire: Under The Dome, November 17, 2020