It’s up to the General Assembly to distribute relief funds to businesses
Business owners and their employees have worked hard to protect their customers and their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I want to thank all of those who have prioritized health and safety despite the hardship of the past several months.
COVID-19 spreads most easily and quickly when people gather together, especially indoors. That has made it harder for businesses to operate safely since the start of the pandemic, and has forced business owners, employees, and patrons to take unprecedented steps to protect themselves and their communities.
We cannot change the nature of this disease, but we can do everything in our power to help the businesses and people hurt by the pandemic. That’s why my administration has made supporting Pennsylvania’s businesses a priority throughout the pandemic.
In March, my administration made low-interest loans available to small businesses through the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program. We worked with the PLCB to waive liquor licensing fees. Through the CARES Act, we directed funds to a hazard pay program for frontline employees, invested $225 million in the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance program, and provided direct support to businesses in many industries, including our agriculture industry, health care providers, arts and cultural organizations, child care providers, emergency medical services and first responders, and many more.
The nature of this disease is insidious, and it makes public spaces – particularly indoor public spaces – dangerous when community transmission levels are high. However, that is not the fault of business owners or their employees, and they should not have to suffer for it.
That’s why I’ve repeatedly asked the federal government to provide more funding for businesses in Pennsylvania. That’s also why my administration transferred $145 million from the Worker’s Compensation Fund at the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to the General Fund to provide money for grants to businesses in need. While I cannot unilaterally direct that money to businesses in the state, I have the authority to make it available to the General Assembly so they can use it to help businesses.
From here, it is up to the members of the General Assembly to take that money and get it into the hands of the business owners who need it. Throughout the pandemic, certain members of the General Assembly have used their roles to support proposals that endanger the public health and which would ultimately hurt businesses and people in their communities. Instead of continuing to fight on the side of the virus, I urge those members to turn their attention to distributing this money to businesses as quickly as possible.
Tom Wolf is the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania.