RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 into law on Friday, Sept. 3, granting direct payments of $335 to North Carolina families with school-aged children.
Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate approved the bipartisan measure over the past week, with the intention of benefiting families with school-aged children by providing direct economic relief in an attempt to offset the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also included in the bill is a temporary $50 weekly increase in unemployment benefits and additional funds for testing, tracing and personal protective equipment. The $335 in direct payments will be distributed by Dec. 15, while the weekly increase in unemployment benefits will last until the end of the year.
The bill will allocate the remaining $1.1 billion in funds that the state had remaining from the funding it received through the CARES Act from Washington earlier this year.
When the state received the money through the CARES Act, Sen. Warren Daniel said that the state was hoping it would be able to use the funds for regular budget expenses and operations.
“When it was passed, there were restrictions that had to be COVID-related. We thought they would come back and loosen the restrictions, but they haven’t yet. (The money) had to be spent by December 31, so we went back to spend the rest of it on COVID-related items,” Daniel said.
Daniel hopes that the payments will help ease some of the burden that Avery families have faced during the economic downturn and assist children who have switched to online learning.
“Parents are having more problems with child care issues and other types of issues when kids are home. It’s sort of a supplement on the $1,200 payment that the federal government already sent out,” Daniel said.
The bill will also provide $20 million in funding to YMCAs across the state, which should include the Williams YMCA in Linville. It is possible that the money may be able to go toward the YMCA’s afterschool program. W.A.M.Y. Community Action and the Williams YMCA did not receive its state grant for its afterschool programs this year.
“I know that the Avery County YMCA needed funding for their student program. It’s $100,000 per grant. I’ve already talked to Trey (Oakley) and given him a heads up to get his application in,” Daniel said.
Additionally, the bill includes a provision that will hold school systems harmless if they experience a loss in enrollment, which in turn affects the amount of money they receive from the state. School systems’ budgets will not be affected if students choose to pursue other educational pathways such as homeschooling.
Highlights of the state spending package include:
- $35 million for childcare assistance
- $75 million for PPE
- $10 million for internet connectivity for students
- $30 million for the GREAT Program to improve rural broadband
- $6.5 million to eliminate the waitlist for children with disabilities to access educational opportunities
- $34 million for testing and tracing
- A hold harmless provision for school districts that see declining enrollment
- $20 million for COVID treatment for the uninsured
- $45 million for a small business grant program
The full text of the ratified HB1105 can be read by clicking to www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1105v6.pdf.