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Dems say $682 million coronavirus aid package needed, but question GOP delay in supporting Ohio workers and businesses

May 5, 2021
Erica C. Crawley News

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and House Finance Committee Ranking Member Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus) issued statements today on the passage of a pair of bills, Senate Bills (SB) 108-109, which would direct $682 million in aid to Ohio businesses struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Democrats expressed concern Wednesday over the months-long delay in the release of the funding, the majority of which was made available to the state last year with the passage of the federal CARES Act in March 2020 and Consolidated Appropriations Act in Dec. 2020.  

“From the outset of this crisis, Democrats have called for targeted aid to support working people, families and businesses,” said Leader Sykes. “While I’m glad we can finally deliver this much-needed relief, it’s a shame that Republicans waited this long to take action, as many of these funds have been sitting idly for months while many Ohioans continue to struggle.”

Funding in the bills include:

  • $100 million to provide grants to bars and restaurants from the federal CARES Act
  • $25 million in CARES Act funds for lodging businesses
  • $20 million entertainment venues of Coronavirus Relief Funds
  • $4.7 million Local Fairs of GRF
  • $10 million new business relief grants of Coronavirus Relief Funds

“When workers and small businesses are strong, Ohio is strong, and these funds will ensure greater security and stability for working people, families and businesses in Ohio,” said Rep. Crawley. “But the truth is it never should have taken this long to release these funds, as the majority were passed more than a year ago. I hope this funding isn’t too late.” 

Democrats also supported an amendment to SB 109 during the House Finance Committee Wednesday that made several additional appropriations to the bill, including:

  • $50 million for Medicaid services under the Department of Developmental Disabilities,
  • $21 million for pandemic-related EBT costs,
  • $10 million for foodbanks,
  • $20 million for county Departments of Job and Family Services for Medicaid administration and transportation services,
  • $26 million for foster care programs,
  • $41 million to support Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation and PUA systems,
  • $34 million for a TANF block grant to counties
  • $55 million in childcare funding.

After passing the House, SB 108-109 head to the Senate for concurrence on House changes to the bills.