COLUMBUS – House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and House Democrats Monday announced the approval of funds by the state Controlling Board to further aid Ohio’s response to the health and economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Controlling Board Monday approved federal CARES Act funding for several items aimed at providing financial relief to Ohio’s citizens, small businesses, and non-profits that have been impacted by the pandemic:
- $125 million to create the Small Business Relief Grant Program;
- $55.2 million for rent, mortgage and utility assistance;
- $38.7 million to create the Ohio Bar and Restaurant Assistance Program;
- $20 million to create the Ohio Arts and Cultural Organizations Grant Program;
- $25 million to the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services to support non-profit organizations
“These funds are long overdue for Ohioans who have been struggling since the onset of this pandemic,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “House Democrats have been calling for action to help small businesses and workers for months while House Republicans ignored our bills and the public’s pleas for help. While we are relieved to finally see the Majority take this pandemic seriously to help those Ohioans hurting from this pandemic, we worry it is too little, too late.”
While this economic relief funding is critical for many Ohioans, House Democrats took issue with how long these funds were withheld. Since the start of the pandemic, Democrats have been calling for the legislature to return to session to pass several Democratic-sponsored bills that provide rental, mortgage and utility relief for residents, aid and assistance to small businesses, front-line workers, unemployed Ohioans, caregivers, schools and so many others who have been struggling.
The Controlling Board on Monday also voted to approve the following COVID-19 related and funding items using federal dollars:
- $93.3 million to the Ohio Dept. of Health to expand statewide COVID-19 testing capabilities;
- $62 million for Ohio’s rural hospitals;
- $100 million to Ohio public higher education institutions;
- $24.6 million to the Ohio Dept. of Public Safety to support the Ohio National Guard’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- $2.5 million to the Ohio Dept. of Veterans Services to reimburse costs related to addressing COVID-19 spread in Ohio Veterans Homes in Georgetown and Sandusky;
- $1 million Ohio’s public libraries to continue operations