Last Weekend In Our State Capital: COVID-19 Relief Package
First I wish to thank all of our first responders and frontline workers for their dedication to public health and safety.
I also want to give a huge shout out to all of our educators and support staff in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and across the state.
In less than two days, you all created lesson plans and transitioned over a million students into virtual learning, working hard to make sure our kids had some level of consistency. Thank you!
In three weeks, more than 700,000 North Carolinians filed for unemployment. These numbers were both a shock to the state’s infrastructure but also to millions of North Carolinians who would be affected by the pandemic.
We knew that we had to respond and do so in a bipartisan fashion. My colleagues in the Senate understood the challenge and while the $1.5 billion package was less than perfect, it moved the needle for working families and small businesses.
We know that more is coming as we navigate this pandemic but I wanted to provide some of the top lines from this relief package.
We fought for measures to strengthen North Carolinian’s resolve and give our families a fighting chance.
Our $1.575 Billion Relief Package includes:
- $75 million for School Nutrition
- $50 million for PPE and Sanitation Supplies
- $50 million for Rural and Underserved Communities
- $20 million for Mental Healthcare
- $125 million for Small Business Loans through the Golden LEAF Foundation
- $300 million to fund the NC Department of Transportation, keeping much-needed projects on schedule and fully funded.
- $25 million for Testing and Tracing
The relief bill will also:
- Waive Interest on Tax Bills and UNC System Student Payments
- Waive Testing and Grading Requirements for students in the 2019–2020 school year
- Establish a Pandemic Health Care Work Force Response Study
- Extend Various DMV Deadlines
- Provide flexibility for Local Government Meetings
- Reinstate Special Obligation Bonds for Local Governments and
- Expand use of Telehealth Medicine
All in all the final COVID-19 relief bill ensures our students are fed, keeps our first responders safe, provides the necessary funds to identify, trace, and account for trends with the virus and provides a much-needed lifeline for small businesses, particularly those left high and dry by the Federal relief programs.
As our body moves forward, it remains top of mind that this bill ignores the most critical relief strategies needed in North Carolina. Our unemployment benefit system and formulas need drastic improvement, the restaurant and lodging industry need our help as well. Working families in North Carolina need healthcare and more than any other event, this pandemic has reminded millions of North Carolinians how fragile access to healthcare is. A job shouldn’t dictate whether you have access to care or not, whether you live or die and our system is designed to do just that.
We also need to begin funding improvements to our election systems to ensure everyone’s voice can be heard this Fall and in the future.
I look forward to updating you as the Senate completes its work.