by Todd DeFeo
The state House passed a measure to distribute $350 million in federal money to help communities across Ohio combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the House passed Senate Bill 310 by an 87-8 margin. The measure now returns to the state Senate to debate changes House lawmakers made.
The legislation allocates funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The money will, in part, reimburse frontline workers for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Our local governments are working non-stop to ensure the health and safety of our families and small businesses during this unprecedented health crisis,” state Rep. Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, said in a statement.
“This legislation appropriates much-needed funding to our communities and small business grant programs to fund pandemic-related expenses and relief,” Russo continued. “We must ensure that our economy and overall public health come out of this pandemic as strong as or stronger than they were going into it.”
According to state estimates, SB 310 authorizes a pay freeze for an estimated 12,000 state employees that could save the state $80 million in the 2021 fiscal year. It also allocates an additional $3.2 million in funding for nursing homes.
“It is important to continue to direct resources to our local communities during this ongoing pandemic,” state Rep. Randi Clites, D-Ravenna, said in a statement. “This federal and state funding will help protect Ohioans in nursing homes, provide necessary PPE for frontline workers, and bolster our local communities during these trying times.”
For businesses, the bill also alters the definition of “gross receipts” for the commercial activity tax (CAT) to exclude paycheck protection loans that have been forgiven from taxation.
“The legislation will have a direct, local impact to areas across the state,” state Rep. Jamie Callender, R-Concord, said in a statement. “With many affected by this unprecedented pandemic, it’s key we give our local areas the much-needed relief they require.”
Unrelated to CARES, lawmakers included a provision that re-appropriates nearly $1.3 billion in capital funds for local governments and educational institutions for the 2021-22 biennium.
“Senate Bill 310 will begin to build the bridge to our city and our state’s economic recovery by distributing much-needed federal aid to Ohio’s local governments,” Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said in prepared testimony to the House Finance Committee earlier this month.
The mayor estimated Springfield lost $10.7 million in revenue because of COVID-19.
“Springfield and Ohio’s other communities have been on the frontlines fighting this pandemic, experiencing steep revenue loss while the cost to provide quality local services is increasing,” Copeland added. “SB 310 will ensure cities, like ours, and counties, and townships get the immediate relief we desperately need now.”
– – –