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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Persell (DFL)

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Rep. Persell votes for CARES Act funding for local governments and critical investments in Minnesotans

Friday, June 19, 2020

St. Paul, MN – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed legislation to deliver $841 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to Minnesota’s counties, cities, and townships, and to make new investments in the people of Minnesota.

“Our local governments and the people they serve are experiencing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19,” said Rep. John Persell (DFL – Bemidji). “Resources are needed to help Minnesotans navigate this pandemic. The investments in this legislation will help ensure that critical public services can continue and protect Minnesotans’ health and economic wellbeing as we weather this storm.”

Per capita, the bill appropriates $121 for counties, $75.34 for cities and townships with populations of 5,000 or greater, and $25 for towns with populations between 200 and 5,000. Under the bill, Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, and Itasca County would receive $5.8 million, $3.6 million, $2.6 million, and $5.7 million, respectively. The city of Bemidji would receive $1.1 million. In addition to direct aid to local governments, the bill includes $30 million in one-time grants to help cities, counties, and towns that are COVID-19 hotspots.

In general, the federal dollars can be used for items that are a direct response to COVID-19, but cannot be used to cover a decline in revenue for a city, town or county. Counties are required to use at least 10 percent of their funding for a) emergency financial assistance for individuals (including help with overdue rent), and b) economic support for businesses (including assistance to those that closed voluntarily because of COVID-19).

The bill also includes critically needed investments in Minnesota and Minnesotans. These include the following:

  • $21 million for increased compensation for personal care assistants (PCAs)
  • One-time assistance for low-income families in the Minnesota Family Investment Program
  • More than $38 million for continuity of service in Direct Care & Treatment programs
  • Funding in for child care assistance necessary to bring Minnesota into federal compliance
  • $18.5 million for overtime staffing for correctional officers
  • Nearly $9 million to reimburse counties for federal funding that was rejected regarding care provided by counties at institutions for mental illness
  • Nearly $29 million to help the Leech Lake and White Earth bands repay overpayments they received from the federal government under Medical Assistance (MA)
  • $3.1 million to BCA to test and manage sexual assault examination kits, eliminate backlog
  • $4.1 million for suicide prevention and housing assistance for veterans