Rep. Drew Stokesbary, ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, unveiled a $4 billion economic recovery package yesterday afternoon.
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Titled, the REAL Recovery for Washington Act, the package appropriates $2.1 billion from the state’s “rainy day” reserves and $1.8 billion in new federal stimulus funds passed by Congress last month.
This $4 billion recovery package addresses our state’s most urgent priorities,” said Stokesbary. “It prioritizes the people of this state so they can continue paying rent, putting food on the table, and helping their children succeed. It prioritizes students, particularly disadvantaged ones, so we can begin closing the opportunity gap that was widened by prolonged remote learning. And it prioritizes our small businesses so they can survive state-mandated shutdowns and get back to creating jobs and revenue for our communities.”
The funds in the package are targeted at three groups: Families, Students and Small Businesses.
Families ($1.5 billion)
- $200 million for a “Recovery Rebate.” The proposal states that the rebate would offset the high sales tax burden on working families – long a priority for legislative Democrats seeking to reform what some analysts say is the country’s most regressive tax structure.
- $600 million for expanded rental assistance.
- $160 million to defray the added costs of remote learning. These funds would come in the form $300 stipends for students from low income families.
- $506 million for covid testing, contact tracing and vaccine distribution.
Students ($1.5 billion)
- $500 million for additional instruction for K-12 students to compensate for any disruptions to learning brought about by prolonged remote instruction. The proposal says that funds would be targeted to historically-disadvantaged students.
- $825 million in funding for school districts to reopen in accordance with the governor’s most recent school-opening guidance. The funds would be made available once a district submits a plan to resume in-person learning.
- $100 million for childcare provider grants
- $46 million in Emergency assistance for private K-12 schools
Small Businesses ($834 million)
- $250 million for expanded small business grants of up to $75,000 for employers
- $500 million in unemployment insurance tax relief. Senate Republicans say they have asked Democrats to include this element of the package in a tax relief and unemployment benefits bill headed to the floor next Wednesday.
- $84 million in temporary B&O tax relief to sectors hit hardest by pandemic-induced closures.
The figures in Stokesbary’s package could serve as a negotiating point with legislative Democrats, who are working on their own early action bills to expand unemployment benefits and allocate federal funds.
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