OML UPDATE AT-A-GLANCE
- The Treasury Department has released guidance for the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act. It unfortunately limits state and local use of financial assistance to unbudgeted COVID-19-related expenses. You can read more in the article below.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released guidance addressing personal protective equipment (PPE) in non-healthcare settings. The guidelines state how organizations should manage PPE needs to ensure the protection of their workers. You can read the guidance HERE.
- Two Ohio prisons, Marion Correctional Institution and Pickaway Correctional Institution, are currently number one and number two respectively as the top two COVID-19 hot spots in the nation.
U.S. TREASURY RELEASES GUIDANCE ON CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
The bill passed by Congress this week does not provide any additional money for state and local governments and does not alter the CARES Act to allow for funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to be used to backfill lost revenue.
Here are some of the guidelines from the Treasury Department regarding the Coronavirus Relief Fund:
- A state can transfer payments to local governments provided the transfer qualifies as a necessary expenditure incurred due to the public health emergency and meets the other criteria of section 601(d).
- Governments do have to return unused funds to the Department of the Treasury if they are not used by December 30, 2020
- Funds may be used to respond directly to the emergency as well as respond to second-order effects of the emergency, such as by providing economic support to those suffering from unemployment or business interruptions due to COVID-19-related business closures.
- The statute says that an expenditure must be "necessary." Treasury interpreted this term to mean reasonably necessary for its intended use in the reasonable judgment of the government officials responsible for spending Fund payments.
- Funds may not be used to fill shortfalls in government revenue to cover expenditures that would not otherwise qualify under the statute. Many uses of funds are allowed, but revenue replacement is not one.
- The CARES Act also requires that payments be used only to cover costs that were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020. The "most recently approved" budget refers to the enacted budget for the relevant fiscal period for the particular government, without taking into account subsequent supplemental appropriations enacted or other budgetary adjustments made by that government in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- The U.S. Treasury has provided a long, nonexclusive list of examples of eligible expenditures.
- Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Expenses of providing paid sick and paid family and medical leave to public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
- Expenditures related to a State, territorial, local, or Tribal government payroll support program.
- Expenses for public safety measures undertaken in response to COVID-19.
- Nonexclusive examples of ineligible expenditures:
- Expenses for the State share of Medicaid.
- Damages covered by insurance.
- Payroll or benefits expenses for employees whose work duties are not substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Expenses that have been or will be reimbursed under any federal program, such as the reimbursement by the federal government pursuant to the CARES Act of contributions by States to State unemployment funds.
- Reimbursement to donors for donated items or services.
- Workforce bonuses other than hazard pay or overtime.
- Severance pay.
- Legal settlements.
You can find the full guidelines from the U.S. Treasury HERE
and an FAQ on the guidelines HERE
The state has been waiting on these guidelines so they can distribute up to $1.2 billion it was appropriated from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to local governments; however, the state has not determined the appropriate mechanism to distribute the state aide to be directed to local governments. The League continues to speak with legislators and administration officials on a constant basis to produce a delivery system for these critical funds.
UPDATE ON FEDERAL COVID-19 FINANCIAL RELIEF LOBBYING EFFORT
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for pushing the "pause button" for state and local funding, saying he thinks additional financial relief for state and local governments should be "thoroughly evaluated." He also stated that if there were any further aid to state and local governments, he would want it to solely be COVID-19-related and that he would want to oversee how those funds were spent.
Democratic leaders have said a final fourth package would include state and local funding. But this package could not happen without cooperation from McConnell.
Ohio Senators Portman and Brown have been pushing for more flexible and robust federal aid for local governments. We want to thank both Brown and Portman for their concern for Ohio governments and for their efforts in the U.S. Senate to push for robust, dedicated and flexible funding for state and local governments in any future stimulus package.
We continue to encourage our members to continue to contact the members of their Congressional delegation and emphasize the need for supporting local budgets, as well as the importance of the critical services Ohio's cities and villages continue to deliver. Without federal aid, municipal budgets will not be able to sustain the level of services Ohioans need and deserve during the worst health crisis in our nation's history and the ensuing economic fallout.
DEWINE CONTINUES CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
- As of Friday afternoon, Ohio reports 15,169 cases of coronavirus, 690 deaths, 3,053 hospitalizations and 920 ICU admissions.
- Starting Friday, April 24, Ohioans who are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but don't qualify for regular unemployment benefits can begin pre-registering for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a new federal program that covers many more categories of workers. To pre-register for PUA benefits, Ohioans should visit unemployment.ohio.gov and click on "Get Started Now."
- The state will cover the costs for those aging out of the foster care system for the next three months to ensure they do not leave care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just over 200,000 children in foster care will turn 18 over the next 3 months and thereby age out of the system. This will also extend to Ohio's Bridges Program, which is foster care until the age of 21.
- Ohio reports that 336 inmates released last week, 844 total have been released over the past five weeks.
- In order to increase testing capacity, Ohio is partnering with Thermo Fisher to produce reagents and ROE Dental Laboratory to produce swabs. Ohio will also be partnering with an organization called Partners in Health to increase the ability to trace contact exposure to COVID-19.