Welcome COVID relief still falls short of what Ohio needs
Posted December 21, 2020 in Press Releases
Late Sunday night, Congressional leaders finally reached an agreement on a $900 billion COVID aid package. Details of the deal are emerging, and the bill language is not yet available. Policy Matters Ohio Executive Director Hannah Halbert released the following statement:
“When the pandemic began, our leaders told us we’re all in this together. We wore masks, we stayed home, and the federal government passed the largest relief package in history, helping millions of Americans get through this difficult time. But for months, with a resurgent virus and millions still out of work, Senate leadership dragged their feet on passing additional relief.
“That finally changed Sunday when they agreed to an important yet insufficient aid package. It will help people keep food on the table and make ends meet. With the holidays and cold winter months around the corner, it will help people stay in their homes. By making it easier for many people to pay for college, the package will help more students pursue their dreams and better their lives.
“Extending key Unemployment Compensation benefits, including a $300 weekly supplement, will help hundreds of thousands of Ohioans stay afloat, but it’s not nearly enough. In every recession since the 1980s, Congress extended benefits for at least three years, far longer than the extensions it is set to approve. And $300 is half the $600 payments that propped up the economy and helped people get by earlier in the pandemic. Ultimately, we will need a recovery package that puts people to work in good jobs by taking on climate change, such as the plan touted by ReImagine Appalachia.
“The deal will give states and cities another full year to spend the billions of dollars they received by the CARES Act, a major help to local governments, in particular. But Congress didn’t include the budget relief state and local governments need to provide residents with the services they rely on. Ohio policymakers will need to consider more revenue options to forge a post-COVID economy.
“While it will certainly help many people, the new aid package is not enough to ensure all Ohioans have real security as we emerge from the pandemic, whether we’re Black or white, live in big cities or in rural communities. Instead of fully prioritizing people, the package spends money on tax subsidies, including a tax break for corporate meal expenses. As we enter a new year, the new Congress must rise to the occasion and stop nickel and diming our recovery.”