Strong Bipartisan Majority Passes Republican Proposal to Allocate $1 Billion in Remaining CARES Act Funding
Measure provides $335 to families with children to help offset costs of school closures
Boosts unemployment benefits by $200+ per month with no employer tax increase
Expands eligibility for Opportunity Scholarships
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Senate today passed the Republican proposal to allocate $1 billion in remaining CARES Act funding by a vote of 44–5.
The measure provides $335 in”Extra Credit” grants to families with children to help offset unexpected costs of school closures to parents. If the bill becomes law, the N.C. Department of Revenue will use its tax database to identify eligible beneficiaries and issue checks. Those who did not file a tax return last year are still eligible and may apply for the program to receive their $335.
Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) said, “Parents are facing an unexpected financial burden from school closures. Expenses like child care, supplemental learning materials, lost wages, and more are adding up. The Republican-controlled legislature voted to provide those parents with some relief in the form of a $335 ‘Extra Credit’ grant.”
The bill also increases all unemployment benefits by $50 per week, bringing North Carolina’s average unemployment assistance to №2 in the Southeast without raising taxes on employers.
Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson), who co-chairs the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance, and Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) said, “With a high unemployment rate, it’s not easy for someone who loses a job to go out and quickly find another one. Recognizing that reality, the Senate voted to boost assistance for every unemployment insurance recipient by more than $200 per month.”
The legislation also increases the eligibility threshold for Opportunity Scholarships, which provide grants to low- and middle-income families to send their children to the school that best fits their needs. Democrats have fought for years to end the program.
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said, “How can it be that in a society so focused on equality, it’s okay for a major political party to say making decisions about your child’s education is reserved only for the wealthy elite? School choice should not be a privilege available only to those who can afford it. Parental school choice is a right, and we will fund it.”
The relief package provides funding for several other areas, including:
- $35 million for child care assistance;
- $75 million for PPE;
- $10 million for internet connectivity for students;
- $30 million for the GREAT program to improve rural broadband;
- $6.5 million to eliminate the waitlist for children with disabilities to access educational opportunities;
- $34 million for testing and tracing;
- A hold harmless provision for school districts that see declining enrollment;
- $20 million for COVID treatment for the uninsured;
- $45 million for a small business grant program.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, which expects to vote on it tomorrow.