PHILADELPHIA – December 23, 2020 – State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) issued the following statement after Gov. Tom Wolf announced a transfer of $145 million from the commonwealth’s Workers’ Compensation Fund Security Fund at the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance had been initiated to provide grants for small businesses adversely affected by the pandemic:
“First, I’d like to thank Gov. Wolf and his administration for taking this important step to help our small businesses. Our small businesses have been struggling for months, through no fault of their own, and it is critical we support them throughout the pandemic. As we push for recovery, we must continue to find creative solutions of this nature to help get aid to help our small businesses, which are the backbone of Pennsylvania’s economy.
As the governor said in his announcement Wednesday, there is still more to be done on multiple fronts. Most importantly, the $145 million transfer initiated today must be appropriated by the General Assembly and that should be one of our top priorities when we resume session. We already have an existing structure working with statewide Community Development Financial Institutions. Recapitalizing that program with $145 million would help get aid to the businesses that have already gone through the process with the CDFIs in an efficient manner and help expedite providing important relief. We successfully worked to provide $200 million in grants that have already been distributed through our CDFIs and are confident in this program.
I want to also thank Gov. Wolf for his support of the $4 billion Pennsylvania CARES 21 Plan the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus has put forth. Part of that plan includes an additional $800 million for small businesses, and additional provisions would also help vulnerable populations and programs that have been overlooked or received minimal federal aid during this pandemic.
We are nearly 10 months into the most devastating public health crisis of our lifetime. It is time for Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to do more to help its people. More than $1.3 billion in recovery aid was recently used to help fill the state’s budget holes. That left thousands of Pennsylvanians without a lifeline at a critical time of year and in the middle of a pandemic. We cannot wait any longer to provide more aid.