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Rep. Sweeney, House Dems announce $361 million in COVID-19 federal relief funds for local governments, state agencies

August 26, 2020
Bride Rose Sweeney News

COLUMBUS – Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today announced state Controlling Board approval for another round of federal funding to support Ohio’s efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak as school districts prepare for fall semester.

“It’s good to see the bipartisan Controlling Board put federal dollars to work in our communities where and when they’re needed the most. A timely response to the request of local governments was especially important because of their December deadline to use these federal funds,” said Rep. Sweeney. “Now it’s time for the Ohio House to reconvene and for the U.S. Congress to pass another relief bill that supports local governments with more robust and flexible funding. I also hope to see prepaid ballot and application postage approved in the near future before it’s too late.”

The Controlling Board Monday approved federal funds from the CARES Act to the following agencies and programs to respond to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • $175 million for Ohio’s local governments;
  • $97.5 million to the Ohio Department of Health to cover costs of expanded COVID-19 testing;
  • $30 million to the Ohio Department of Education to reimburse schools for providing meals to students during the summer and $18 million in grants to help offset ongoing costs local school districts are faced with;
  • $30 million to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to fund the Child Care Grant Support to aid child care providers that choose to maintain reduced ratios and class sizes, as well as $9 million to support childcare costs for school aged children impacted by remote learning and $1 million to fund the Trauma Informed Certificate ensuring all children service providers are trauma informed in order to receive federal funds.

The Controlling Board approved changes to the Broadband Ohio connectivity grant, which helps school districts offset costs of virtual learning, by removing the original matching requirement. Initial feedback indicated that the local matching requirement created a barrier for many school districts.

Furthermore, $578,448 in existing state funds were approved for use by the Secretary of State’s office for precinct election officials training ahead of the November election.

Absent from the Board’s agenda, however, was the approval for the Secretary of State to use funds to prepay return postage for voting materials, which the secretary said he would request of the Board last week.

For months, Democrats have urged LaRose to use existing authority to pay return postage for both ballot applications and ballots, a move they say is critically important as more Ohioans turn to mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.