The bill establishes a dedicated COVID response fund, includes funding for state agencies, childcare, college students, small businesses.
(ST. PAUL, MN) – Senate Republicans passed a third COVID-19 response bill today to help Minnesotans withstand the effects of this global pandemic. Today’s action establishes a dedicated COVID-19 Minnesota Fund that will be used by the Walz administration to keep Minnesotans safe during this emergency. The package also includes funding for childcare providers, college students, small businesses, veterans, homeless shelters and food shelves.
“I want to assure Minnesotans we are working together to keep people safe from Coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) said. “There are many ways that state government can act to protect Minnesotan’s lives and their livelihood, and this is just the first step to taking care of the most important needs.”
“I certainly recognize the need for a safety net for the various services and industries provided for in this bill,” said Senator Jason Rarick (R-Brook Park). “That being said, it is never my preference to vote on a spending bill without the usual amount of time for reviewal. Unusual circumstances have forced many hands.”
The COVID-19 Minnesota Fund can only be used for expenses incurred during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency as declared by Executive Order 20-01 to maintain operations of government. Examples of increased costs would be additional healthcare and staffing needs in prison facilities, staffing and overtime for direct care and treatment, and resources for activities by the national guard in response to COVID-19, among other expenses incurred by state government.
The bill includes $30 million in Child Care Aware grants during the peacetime emergency. In order to receive a grant, the childcare provider must have a license in good standing or qualify as an emergency provider, must prioritize the children of healthcare and emergency workers, maintain their service during the peacetime emergency, and follow practices that prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Higher learning students have also been impacted by the closures of colleges and universities during the pandemic. Temporary powers granted in the bill allow the Commissioner of Higher Education to waive rules and statues for work study, SELF loans, and the state grant program to assist students in financial hardship. The bill conforms to changes made at the federal level in response to COVID-19.