COLUMBUS – State Representative Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) and House Democrats Monday announced the approval of funds by the state Controlling Board to further aid Ohio’s response to the health and economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Controlling Board Monday approved federal CARES Act funding for several items aimed at providing financial relief to Ohio’s citizens, small businesses, and non-profits that have been impacted by the pandemic:
· $125 million to create the Small Business Relief Grant Program;
· $55.2 million for rent, mortgage and utility assistance
· $38.7 million to create the Ohio Bar and Restaurant Assistance Program;
· $20 million to create the Ohio Arts and Cultural Organizations Grant Program ;
· $25 million to the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services to support non-profit organizations
“The approval of this funding is long past due for Ohioans as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. This is just the tip of the iceberg of relief that families need to help them adjust to this new normal. It is vital that the resources we provide are able to adequately meet their needs. School districts are also in need of more state financial support in order to continue to serve and educate our students as we weather out the storm of the pandemic,” said Rep. Brent.
While this economic relief funding is critical for many Ohioans, House Democrats took issue with how long these funds were withheld. Since the start of the pandemic, Democrats have been calling for the legislature to return to session to pass several Democratic-sponsored bills that provide rental, mortgage and utility relief for residents, aid and assistance to small businesses, front-line workers, unemployed Ohioans, caregivers, schools and so many others who have been struggling.
The Controlling Board on Monday also voted to approve the following COVID-19 related and funding items using federal dollars:
· $93.3 million to the Ohio Dept. of Health to expand statewide COVID-19 testing capabilities;
· $62 million for Ohio’s rural hospitals;
· $100 million to Ohio public higher education institutions;
· $24.6 million to the Ohio Dept. of Public Safety to support the Ohio National Guard’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
· $2.5 million to the Ohio Dept. of Veterans Services to reimburse costs related to addressing COVID-19 spread in Ohio Veterans Homes in Georgetown and Sandusky;
· $1 million Ohio’s public libraries to continue operations