Senate Approves Budget/Comprehensive COVID-19 Funding Package

Facing an uncertain economic future and working to address the devastating impact of COVID-19, the Senate today (May 28) set a course for recovery by approving a $25.8 billion interim budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21 as well as a plan to direct $2.6 billion in federal CARES funding to organizations that were most severely impacted by the virus, including $40 million to help farmers and address food insecurity issues, according to Senator Elder Vogel, (R-47).

The measures now go to the Governor for enactment into law.

House Bill 2387 is an interim spending plan that provides five months of funding for most state agencies and services for FY 2020-21. The appropriations in HB 2387 are based primarily on current funding for agencies and services in the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget, but allocated at a five-month level. Full-year funding is provided for a few select line items in HB 2387, notably for education and food security programs.

“We just don’t know where Pennsylvania’s economy will be over the course of the coming month, so it was simply too risky to budget for the full fiscal year,” Senator Vogel said. “The budget we passed today provides full-year funding for education and it provides enough short-term funding for state agencies and programs that will give us time to see how the recovery is progressing.”

Senate Bill 1108 appropriates in federal CARES funding for critical needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including $20 million for dairy assistance programs, with $5 million of that money focused on support for dairy commodities for those facing food insecurity.

“I was important that this funding was included in this package, as it furthers the efforts we have undertaken in recent years to help Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers, such as last year’s ‘Farming First’ legislative package,”  said Senator Vogel, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. “Unfortunately, there were far too many occasions during the crisis where dairy farmers were forced – through absolutely no fault of their own – to dump the milk produced on their farms. Many dairy farms were already financially distressed before the pandemic and the crisis certainly exacerbated those problems. These funds are intended to provide vital assistance to keep those farms as viable components of Pennsylvania’s number one industry.”

The bill also allocates $20 million for the State Food Purchase Program, with $5 million of those funds dedicated to supporting the Pennsylvania Agriculture Surplus System (PASS) as a way to support Pennsylvania’s farmers while addressing food insecurity issues.

“PASS is a great program that reimburses farmers for some of their costs when they donate their extra crops to help food banks,” Senator Vogel said. “Otherwise, without the money to defray costs, much of that edible surplus food would be trashed or left to rot in the field. This program is a win-win and I am pleased that it was included as a recipient of the CARES money.”

 Other funding in SB 1108 includes:

  • $692 million for long-term living services providers.
  • $625 million for counties that did not receive a direct subsidy from the federal government.
  • $259 million for providers of intellectual disability and autism services.
  • $225 million to help Pennsylvania’s small businesses recover.
  • $175 million to provide rent and mortgage assistance to low- and middle–income families impacted by the pandemic.
  • $150 million to help school districts meet the challenges created by COVID-19.
  • $116 million for child-care services.
  • $72.2 million to support higher education students.
  • $50 million to support first responders.

 

CONTACT:               Matt Parido                 mparido@pasen.gov