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House Dems announce $361 million in COVID-19 federal relief funds for state agencies, local governments

August 24, 2020
Democrat Newsroom

COLUMBUS – House Democrats announced Monday the state Controlling Board approved another round of federal funding to support Ohio’s efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak as school districts prepare for fall semester.

“From childcare to connectivity to food insecurity, many students and families are facing serious challenges as this school year begins,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “While there is still more work the state needs to do, directing these resources to our schools and local governments is essential in our ongoing battle to mitigate the harm from the pandemic.”

The Controlling Board Monday approved federal funds from the CARES Act to the following agencies and programs to respond to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • $175 million for Ohio’s local governments;
  • $97.5 million to the Ohio Department of Health to cover costs of expanded COVID-19 testing;
  • $30 million to the Ohio Department of Education to reimburse schools for providing meals to students during the summer and $18 million in grants to help offset ongoing costs local school districts are faced with;
  • $30 million to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to fund the Child Care Grant Support to aid child care providers that choose to maintain reduced ratios and class sizes, as well as $9 million to support childcare costs for school aged children impacted by remote learning and $1 million to fund the Trauma Informed Certificate ensuring all children service providers are trauma informed in order to receive federal funds.

The Controlling Board approved changes to the Broadband Ohio connectivity grant, which helps school districts offset costs of virtual learning, by removing the original matching requirement. Initial feedback indicated that the local matching requirement created a barrier for many school districts.

“When the BroadbandOhio connectivity grant was announced, I raised concerns about poorer school districts not being able to afford the matching requirement,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), who is a member of the Controlling Board. “I am glad to see the Dept. of Education making this necessary change to this important program.”

Furthermore, $578,448 in existing state funds were approved for use by the Secretary of State’s office for precinct election officials training ahead of the November election.

Absent from the Board’s agenda, however, was the approval for the Secretary of State to use funds to prepay return postage for voting materials, which the secretary said he would request of the Board last week.

For months, Democrats have urged LaRose to use existing authority to pay return postage for both ballot applications and ballots, a move they say is critically important as more Ohioans turn to mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.