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Congressional stimulus includes $54+ billion for public schools

HSTA postpones today’s live briefing until Dec. 28

The U.S. House and Senate are expected to approve a $900 billion fiscal stimulus package today that will deliver critical pandemic aid to millions of Americans, including more than $54 billion in assistance to public schools nationwide. We estimate that Hawaii public schools’ share of those relief funds could be in the $200 million range, but we are still awaiting details. We hope this positive development will provide Hawaii schools the funding to avoid furloughs.

To fully understand the impacts this relief bill will have on Hawaii’s schools, we are moving our live stream Q&A session from today to Monday, Dec. 28, at 4 p.m. on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. You can ask your question live during the session or submit it directly to us here.

The congressional aid package expected to be approved today will also provide another round of direct payments to taxpayers, including many of our members. People making up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $600, while couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, in addition to $600 per child. Treasury officials said Monday that the checks could go out as soon as next week.

Read an analysis of what this round of COVID-19 funding means for public schools.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s in the latest stimulus package, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz:

Education

Provides at least an estimated $200 million for Hawai‘i schools, which can be used to support teacher salaries, including:

  • An estimated $4.4 million for Hawai‘i in the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which provides both K-12 schools and institutions of higher education with emergency assistance funding;
  • An estimated $178 million for Hawai‘i in Elementary and Secondary School (K-12) Emergency Relief Funding with eligibility for Native Hawaiian Education Programs specifically included; and
  • Access to additional funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to support Hawai‘i’s colleges and universities; and
  • At least $20 million in estimated funding for Hawai‘i to support Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions.

Unemployment assistance

Extension of unemployment insurance to help those who have lost their jobs or are experiencing reduced incomes.

  • At least $200 million in estimated funding will go to helping unemployed Hawai‘i workers.
  • Available to self-employed individuals, part-time workers, independent contractors, and gig workers, including ride-sharing drivers.
  • Covers those who are sick, quarantined, furloughed, or whose family circumstances keep them from working or reduce their pay as a result of the coronavirus outbreak or government containment efforts.
  • Aid will cover salaries up to about $65,000 for 3 months with an additional $300 per week.

Rent relief and eviction moratorium

An estimated $200 million to help Hawai‘i residents who lost their job or saw a significant reduction in income due to the pandemic to make rent.

  • Provides a 30-day extension of the CDC’s current eviction moratorium to January 31, 2021.
  • At least 90 percent of the funds must be used for payment of future rent, back rent, utilities and home energy bills, and related housing expenses; and up to 10 percent of the funds are available for housing counseling or other stability services.
  • Includes an additional $2.4 million for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Small businesses and non-profits

Provides $325 billion nationally for small businesses, including restaurants, hotels, live venues, and non-profits.

  • $284 billion in partially forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to small businesses and non-profits to maintain existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.
    • The hardest-hit small businesses—those with 300 or fewer employees that have sustained a 25 percent revenue loss in any quarter of 2020—can receive a second forgivable PPP loan.
    • Forgivable expenses are expanded to include supplier costs, investments in facility modifications, and purchases of personal protective equipment.
    • Business expenses paid for with PPP loans are now tax deductible, consistent with Congressional intent in the CARES Act.
    • Expanded eligibility for nonprofits, local newspapers, and TV and radio broadcasters.
    • PPP forgiveness process simplified for loans of $150,000 or less, eliminating red tape and making loan forgiveness easier for small businesses.
    • $20 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) emergency grant advances of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for small business operating costs.
    • $15 billion for grants to independent live venue operators, including eligible independent movie theatres and museums, affected by stay-at-home orders.

Vaccine distribution and procurement

Provides nearly $32 billion nationally, including $4.5 billion directly to states and localities and an estimated $35 million to Hawai‘i, to help distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Testing and contact tracing

Provides $22.4 billion nationally for testing and contact tracing, including at least $150 million in estimated funding to Hawai‘i. This funding will expand capacity for COVID-19 testing to effectively monitor and suppress COVID–19, conduct surveillance and contact tracing activities, and support other COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Hospitals and health care providers

Provides $3 billion nationally, including an estimated $5 million for Hawai‘i providers, to help health care providers through the Provider Relief Fund, extends relief from the Medicare sequester through March 2021, and increases payments under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for all services by 3.75 percent for 2021.

Mental health

Includes more than $4 billion nationally for several mental health programs, including the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, and suicide prevention programs.

Direct cash payments

Provides a one-time cash payment to millions of Americans.More than $700 million is estimated to go to Hawai‘i residents.

  • Individuals will get $600 (joint filers get $1,200) plus $600 per child.
  • Benefits start to phase out for those with incomes exceeding $150,000 for married couples, $75,000 for singles, and $112,500 for single parents.
  • Payments will not go to single filers earning more than $87,000; head-of-household filers with one child, more than $136,500; and more than $174,000 for joint filers with no children.
  • Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will be eligible for this cash payment.
  • Expands direct payments to households with mixed immigration status, retroactive to the CARES Act.

Child care

$10 billion for grants for child care providers, including an estimated $25 million or more for Hawai‘i.

Native-serving community lenders

Provides $25 million nationally in grants to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) serving Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, and other Native American communities across the country to help them withstand the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Transportation

Provides at least $128 million in estimated funding for Hawai‘i to support transportation and airport services including:

  • $60 million to ensure that transit services in Hawai‘i continue operating with enhanced safety procedures for passengers and staff;
  • $42 million to continue funding for critical highway projects;
  • $26 million for Hawai‘i airports. Funds can be used for operations and expenses related to coronavirus safety procedures as well as a set-aside for aide to in-terminal airport concessions and other service providers;
  • Access to $2 billion in national funding to transportation service companies, such as tour bus operators. At least 60 percent of the funding must be used to retain or rehire staff; and
  • Access to $15 billion in national funding to airlines for workforce salaries and benefits to prevent layoffs.

Coronavirus Relief Fund extension

Includes a one-year extension of the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, providing state and county governments with more time to expend their allocations. The new deadline is December 31, 2021.

Broadband internet

Provides at least $7 billion nationally to improve broadband infrastructure, expand access high-speed internet, including:

  • At least $30 million in funding for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands;
  • $3.2 billion nationally in an Emergency Broadband Benefit to help low-income Americans get connected or remain connected to broadband;
  • $250 million nationally for a new telehealth pilot program;
  • $300 million national grant program to fund broadband in rural areas; and
  • $65 million to improve U.S. broadband maps.

Food and nutrition programs

Provides $13 billion nationally for nutrition programs, including an increase of 15 percent in monthly SNAP benefits to ensure that all Americans receive the food they need. The bill also provides funding for food banks, food pantries, school meal programs, and other nutrition programs.

Agricultural producers and fisheries

Provides $13 billion nationally to support agriculture, fisheries, and rural communities, including:

  • $9.7 billion for assistance to farmers and ranchers, including specialty crops, floriculture, and seafood processors;
  • $1.5 billion to purchase food, agricultural products, and seafood for individuals in need; and
  • $300 million for assistance to commercial, recreational, and tribal fisheries.
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