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.