(HARRISBURG) Feb. 5, 2021—Sen. Michele Brooks joined her colleagues in supporting a comprehensive $912 million relief package to help businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Bill 109 received final legislative approval today and was sent to the Governor’s desk for enactment into law.
In a key provision, the legislation provides for tax forgiveness on the relief funds received by many businesses and families during the past year. Specifically, it exempts income received from the federal Paycheck Protection Program and stimulus checks from taxation under the state’s Personal Income Tax.
“This tax forgiveness is vital to small businesses and families,” Brooks said. “Taxing a relief package would have only added insult to injury for Pennsylvanians who have already suffered enough financially under the pandemic. The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue had already moved forward on a plan to tax these dollars. Without this provision in Senate Bill 109, every indication was that these funds would have been taxed on the state level.”
The legislation invests in rental and utility assistance, and awards $197 million for education programs, and $145 million to support Pennsylvania’s struggling hospitality industry, including restaurants and hotels, as they cope with the devastation created by the pandemic and the governor’s mandated closings and restrictions.
In addition, federal funding for rental and utility assistance would be proportionally distributed to counties based upon their population. The measure aims to create a financial safety net for tenants and landlords, with funding provided by federal coronavirus stimulus money.
The $197 million for education, which is also supported by federal funding, would be used to create a $150 million competitive grant program under the Department of Education to assist non-public schools that have been impacted by the pandemic and have not received government assistance. Our public schools have already received financial assistance in a separate relief package.
The remaining $47 million would provide assistance to career and technical centers, community colleges,
private residential rehabilitative institutions, and charter schools for the deaf and blind.
The third component in the sweeping relief package would transfer $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund to the COVID-19 Response Restricted Account to provide county block grants to assist the hospitality industry, including restaurants, bar and grills, and hotels.
Grants would be provided in increments of $5,000 up to $50,000. Grants may not be used to pay for the same operating expenses already covered by a federal PPP loan or the state’s prior $225 million Small Business Assistance Program.
“I understand the financial struggles that COVID-19 has inflicted on small businesses and families. It’s my hope that this comprehensive relief package will help ease that burden on our community hospitality industry and our residents,” Sen. Brooks said.
CONTACT: Diane McNaughton