State legislators approve COVID-19 response packages
Published 6:11 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2020
RALEIGH – The North Carolina General Assembly unanimously passed two COVID-19 response packages on Saturday, approving over $1.5 billion of funding relief for critical needs and extensive policy measures to help local communities address the crisis as the state safely reopens its economy.
House Bill 1043 Pandemic Response Act appropriates over $1.5 billion in relief funding for North Carolina’s medical providers, education communities, broadband connectivity.
Senate Bill 704 COVID-19 Recovery Act provides tax relief, streamlines unemployment access, and makes policy reforms in education, healthcare, and government operations to assist North Carolinians through the pandemic and economic shutdown.
Initially, the House wanted to spend $1.7 billion; the Senate wanted $1.3 billion. The final total came to about $1.6 billion, which will be appropriated from the $3.5 billion the federal government available to North Carolina through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
The Senate is awaiting federal changes to guidance about how North Carolina can spend roughly $470 million provided under the CARES Act. About $300 million is set to go to the N.C. Department of Transportation, $150 million would go to local governments, and $20 million would offset lost receipts in other state agencies — payments like admission fees, memberships, and hunting licenses. Both pots are only usable if the federal government changes the rules to allow North Carolina to spend the money on gaps left by unpaid and late taxes. Another $150 million is in a reserve for local governments.
Select appropriations from the relief package include:
Broadband Connectivity: $9 million
Support for Education: School Nutrition – $75 million; Summer Learning Programs – $70 million; K-12 Connectivity – $11 million; K-12 Devices for Students – $30 million; Student Health – $10 million; Community Colleges – $25 million; UNC Flexibility Funding – $44.4 million; and Assistance for Private Colleges – $20 million
Support for the Department of Health and Human Services includes Testing, Tracing and Trends – $25 million; Enhanced Public Health Capacity – $20 million; Enhanced Behavioral Health – $20 million; and Rural and Underserved Communities – $50 million
Food, Safety, Shelter, Foster and Child Care will receive $27.5 million.
Financial Support for Assisted Living Facilities: $25 million
The N.C. Medical School Research Fund includes the UNC School of Public Health/NC Collaboratory: $29 million; Duke University Human Vaccine Institute: $15 million; ECU Brody School of Medicine: $15 million; Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine: $6 million; and Wake Forest University Health Services: $20 million.
Hospital funding includes $65 million for those in rural areas; and $15 million each for the Teaching Hospitals Relief Fund and General Hospital Relief Fund.
Local Government Assistance: $150 million
For Providers and Emergency Responders: Enhanced PPE and Sanitation Supplies – $50 million; Association of Community Health Centers: $5 million; Prescriptions for Indigent and Uninsured: $1.5 million; and Free and Charitable Clinics: $5 million
Small Business Assistance Loans: $125 million
State Government Operations: $85 million
Transportation Operations: $300 million
Tourism Industry Support: $5 million