Gov. David Ige announced Thursday that state government furloughs and layoffs are no longer necessary now that President Joe Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, also known as the COVID-19 relief bill.
The sweeping pandemic relief package aims to defeat the COVID-19 virus and breathe life into the economy. The legislation means that the State of Hawai‘i and four counties will receive about $2.2 billion in assistance to bolster state and county budgets that have sustained significant tax revenue losses because of the pandemic.
Here is the breakdown:
- $1.6 billion for the State of Hawai‘i
$365 million for the City and County of Honolulu
$36 million for the County of Hawai‘i
$13 million for the County of Kaua‘i
$30 million for the County of Maui
The state will also receive an additional $116 million for critical capital projects for pandemic response in education and healthcare.
“This new infusion of federal funding gives the state much-needed breathing room so that layoffs and furloughs are no longer necessary in the foreseeable future. We must still assess all impacts of the COVID-19 relief bill before we have a clearer picture of its effect on the state budget,” said Ige.
Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee said, “This is welcome news for educators who have been worried about whether they will have jobs or be able to pay their bills. We hope that takes some stress off their plates.”
The bill signed Thursday contains at least $634 million in estimated funding for Hawai‘i schools, including:
- About $391 million for Hawai‘i in Elementary and Secondary School (K-12) Emergency Relief Funding
- At least $78 million must be used to address learning loss
- An additional $85 million specifically for Native Hawaiian Education Programs
- An estimated $98 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to support Hawai‘i’s colleges and universities
- At least $60 million in estimated funding for Hawai‘i to support Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions and Asian American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions
See a breakdown of the federal aid funds expected in Hawaii from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.
The federal relief package expands unemployment benefits through Sept. 6 with $300 a week from the federal government. The bill also provides a 100% subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums so that laid-off employees can remain on their healthcare plans through September.
In addition, the package will provide $1,400 for qualified single taxpayers, $2,800 for qualified married couples that file jointly, and $1,400 for each dependent.
The relief package will also provide significant federal funding for:
- The Dept. of Health for the COVID-19 response, such as vaccinations, public health programs, and mental health and substance abuse programs;
- SNAP, childcare, and Medicaid programs; and
- Rental and mortgage assistance.
Read H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 here.
Featured photo courtesy NEA.