The Lead

Wolf signs $912M COVID-19 relief plan with aid for renters, restaurants

By: - February 5, 2021 1:26 pm

Calling the $600 supplement a “vital lifeline,” U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) warned that the loss of benefits “would be absolutely devastating to families and our economy. Now is not the time to pull back and say to families: ‘You’re on your own.’” (Susan J. Demas/Michigan Advance)

*This story was updated at 4:45 on 2/5/21 to reflect that Gov. Tom Wolf signed the spending plan. 

More than $912 million in federal stimulus money is set to start flowing to Pennsylvania’s tenants, utility ratepayers, schools and business owners, as Gov. Tom Wolf moved quickly on Friday to sign a spending plan the Legislature sent him earlier that day.

The legislation that Wolf signed includes $570 million in rental and utilities assistance, which will be distributed among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties based on population; $150 million in grants for non-public schools; and nearly $50 million to help technical schools, community colleges and schools for the deaf and blind. 

The bulk of the funds come from the December 2020 congressional COVID-19 relief deal, which also provided $600 in one-time, direct aid to Americans meeting certain income thresholds. 

A House committee amended the legislation on Thursday to exempt those stimulus checks from state and local taxes. 

The bill also siphons $145 million in surplus funds from a state insurance fund to create grants for small businesses in the hospitality industry. 

The Legislature unveiled the spending plan last week and advanced it to Wolf’s desk in a series of swift, unanimous votes. The House and Senate granted it final approval on Friday morning, hours before Wolf signed it into law. 

Lawmakers heralded the bill’s quick passage, saying it would get desperately needed money to Pennsylvanians who have fallen behind on rent and utility payments.

Pa. General Assembly advances $912M COVID aid package

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Elizabeth Hardison
Elizabeth Hardison

Elizabeth Hardison covered education policy, election administration, criminal justice and legislative news for the Capital-Star from Jan. 2019-April 2021. You can find her on Twitter @ElizHardison.