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$13B In Virus Relief Bill Headed To Pennsylvania Government

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA

State, county and city governments in Pennsylvania will receive about $13 billion from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package making its way through Congress, a huge sum of money at a time when the state is projecting a multibillion-dollar deficit.

The state's share of that will be about $7.3 billion while the other $5.7 billion will go to local governments, officials with the Independent Fiscal Office told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

Governments can use the money to pay for costs associated with responding to the pandemic or to backfill revenue losses inflicted by the pandemic's effects, they said.

It cannot finance tax cuts, they said. The bill passed the Senate on Saturday and is scheduled for a House vote this week. President Joe Biden supports it.

The Independent Fiscal Office has projected a roughly $2.5 billion deficit for state government next year, with much of state government's rising costs being driven by long-term nursing care for a growing number of elderly residents in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania's tax collections this year through February, the eighth month of the fiscal year, were slightly behind last year's collections when adjusting for $1.8 billion that the Department of Revenue said was collected in this fiscal year because of delayed tax-filing deadlines last year.