In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden signed a third round of COVID-19-related financial stimulus funding. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes $1,400 direct checks for individual taxpayers making $75,000 or less and families making $150,000 or less; and $350 billion to state and local governments across America. It also extends an existing $300 weekly unemployment benefits through Sept. 6 and provides a tax break on $10,000 in unemployment benefits.
Specific to Pennsylvania, the new law will provide more than $13.7 billion for state and local governments and direct payments to more than 5.5 million households. It will also extend federal unemployment insurance benefits to more than 480,000 Pennsylvanians.
The bill also includes an unprecedented expansion of the child tax credit that would provide $3,000 a year for each child ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 for each child under 6. According to a story in the Washington Post, this tax credit will be sent via direct deposit on a “periodic” basis as a way to offset costs families face day-to-day, instead of sending families one annual payment.
Other notable provisions in the new law include:
- Tens of billions of dollars for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing; increasing the size of the public health workforce and funding vaccine distribution and supply chains.
- Nearly $130 billion will be set aside to help K-12 schools reopen. That money would go to improving ventilation systems, reducing class sizes, buying personal protective equipment and implementing social distancing.
- Funding for colleges and other higher-education institutions will go toward financial aid grants to help students who have faced pandemic-related financial challenges.
- Child-care provider funds would be distributed through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program. The new package also sets aside $1 billion for the Head Start Program, which helps fund early education for young children from low-income families.
- It expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit for start-up companies and other businesses hit by the pandemic.
- Establishes a $10 billion infrastructure program to help local governments continue crucial capital projects.
- For education funding, the bill sets aside $1.25 billion for summer enrichment; $1.25 billion for after-school programs and $3 billion for education technology.