Tartaglione Hails Guv’s Small-Business Plan

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STATE SEN. Christine Tartagh of Philadelphia commendated Gov. Tom Wolf’s small-business relief plan for the pandemic.

State Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Kensington) applauded the announcement by Gov. Tom Wolf of his intent to transfer $145 million from the State’s Workers’ Compensation Security Fund into the General Fund so that they may be reallocated for pandemic-related small business relief. Tartaglione also urged her General Assembly colleagues to grant the legislative authorization required to appropriate the funds as grants to small businesses adversely affected by the pandemic.

“I have said throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that we must strive to protect the financial health of workers and their families in addition to their physical health,” the senator said. “The preservation of small businesses such as restaurants and taverns, gyms, and independent entertainment venues, which employed some 2.5 million Pennsylvanians prior to the pandemic, is vital to protecting these jobs.”

In addition to the legislative authorization requirement, the transfer carries a requirement that the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund be reimbursed the full $145 million on a later date. Since the start of the pandemic (March 11), the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has received 12,926 new workers’ compensation claims. In 2019, the Department reported 10,071 total claim petitions.

The Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus prioritized a new round of pandemic relief funding for small businesses in their initial PA CARES proposal issued in October, which included $575 million in assistance for bars, taverns, and restaurants; barbers, salons, and the personal care industry; tourism; Main Street and historically disadvantaged businesses; and nonprofit organizations. The Republican-led General Assembly took no action on this proposal and instead used $1.3 billion in remaining federal CARES Act funding to balance the State budget.

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats introduced a new $4 billion PA CARES 21 plan, which includes $800 million in relief for small businesses, with $300 million exclusively for restaurants, taverns, and others in the hospitality industry.

“These businesses are taking on massive debts just to keep their lights on and keep enough staff in place to prepare for the day when they can start rebuilding their businesses again,” Senator Tartaglione said. “They are doing everything they can to improve health protections for patrons and staff. We have an obligation to make them whole.”

For more information about the PA CARES 21 proposal, visit www.pasenate.com/pacares.

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