HARRISBURG – As Pennsylvania’s restaurants and small businesses continue to struggle from the effects of COVID-19 economic shutdowns initiated by the Wolf administration, Pennsylvania Republicans Monday urged Gov. Tom Wolf to prioritize their recovery with the $372 million pandemic response discretionary account his office received as part of the FY 2021-22 state budget.
In a co-sponsorship memo circulated Monday, Reps. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) and Todd Polinchock (R-Bucks) called on Wolf to use the $372 million in the discretionary account to create two open and competitive grant programs designed to help struggling small businesses and create a fund dedicated to increasing Pennsylvania’s vaccine awareness and deployment.
“The top 5% of federal restaurant relief fund awardees received 40% of the money and only one-third of Pennsylvania restaurants that applied got any,” Ortitay said. “That’s horrendous. The recent state budget provided the Wolf administration the resources needed to help struggling employers and the governor should make increased funding available.”
According to the lawmakers, $150 million of the governor’s discretionary funds would be dedicated to a Small Restaurant Pandemic Relief Fund and $150 million would be dedicated to a Pennsylvania Small Employer Pandemic Relief Fund; and finally $20 million would create a Vaccination Awareness Fund. The remaining $52 million would be available for the governor to provide pandemic relief on an as-needed basis.
“We urge the governor to responsibly use these considerable resources given to him by the taxpayers and put together an open and transparent competitive grant program to help struggling restaurants and small businesses, while putting a portion of his discretionary funding behind our collective efforts to get more Pennsylvanians vaccinated,” Polinchock added. “The public deserves to know their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely, and not just for political favors. These proposals would help achieve dual goals of recovery and accountability.”
In the absence of legislation, the governor is not prohibited from using the pandemic response discretionary funds to create these programs on his own.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Representative Todd Polinchock
144th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick