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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL)

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RELEASE: Duluth lawmakers vote for CARES Act funding for local government and critical investments in Minnesotans

Friday, June 19, 2020

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill to provide $841 million in federal CARES Act funding to Minnesota’s cities, counties, and towns, and make new investments in the people of Minnesota. Cities would receive $350 million in aid, counties would receive $467 million, and towns would receive $24 million.

“Individuals, families, businesses, and communities have all struggled during this pandemic. We’ve seen Minnesotans come together to support one another in unprecedented fashion, and this legislation is the next step of our state’s response to the crisis,” said Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Duluth), the House Majority Whip. “The funding in this bill will help ensure critical public services can continue, and that Minnesotans can experience a bright future once these challenges pass.”

“Minnesotans have shown great resiliency since the pandemic emerged, and the investments in this legislation are critical to our state’s ability to rebound from it. The investments in this legislation will protect public services everyone counts on, and strengthen Minnesotans’ health and economic wellbeing,” said Rep. Jen Schultz (DFL – Duluth). “I’m particularly pleased this legislation delivers a wage increase for the PCAs who help people with disabilities and other vulnerable Minnesotans live with the dignity they deserve, and who are at increased exposure to COVID-19 for doing so.”

Per capita, the bill appropriates $121 for counties, $75.34 for cities and townships with populations 5,000 or greater, and $25 for towns between 200 and 5,000 people. Under the legislation, St. Louis county would receive $24.5 million and the city of Duluth would receive $6.5 million.

In addition to direct aid to local governments, the bill includes $30 million in one-time grants to help cities, counties, and towns that are COVID-19 hotspots. 

In general, the federal dollars can be used for items that are a direct response to COVID-19, but cannot be used to cover a decline in revenue for a city, town or county. Counties are required to use at least 10 percent of their funding for a) emergency financial assistance for individuals (including help with overdue rent), and b) economic support for businesses (including assistance to those that closed voluntarily because of COVID).

The bill also includes critically needed investments in Minnesota and Minnesotans. These include the following:

  • $21 million for increased compensation for personal care assistants (PCAs)
  • One-time assistance for low-income families in the Minnesota Family Investment Program
  • More than $38 million for continuity of service in Direct Care & Treatment programs.
  • Funding in for child care assistance necessary to bring MN into federal compliance
  • $18.5 million for overtime staffing for correctional officers
  • Nearly $9 million to reimburse counties for federal funding that was rejected regarding care provided by counties at institutions for mental illness.
  • Nearly $29 million to help the Leech Lake and White Earth bands repay overpayments they received from the federal government under Medical Assistance (MA)
  • $6 million for the Minnesota Zoo
  • $3.1 million to BCA to test and manage sexual assault examination kits, eliminate backlog
  • $4.1 million for suicide prevention and housing assistance for veterans