By: KDKA-TV News Staff
HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) — In order to help businesses across the state hurting from the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Tom Wolf says he wants to begin transferring $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund at the state Insurance Department and disburse them as grants to businesses.
“That sounds like a great idea. We could use some help,” said Allan Lydic, the owner of Greensburg Newsstand.
The proposal would require a vote from the Republican-majority Legislature to appropriate the money, and there has been no deal struck to accomplish that.
In a press release from the Governor’s Office, Wolf says:
“Business owners and employees have worked hard to protect their customers and their communities during this pandemic, and I thank all of those who have prioritized health and safety despite the hardship of the past several months. Our business owners and workers have been forced to make sacrifices because of COVID-19 and they need and deserve our support.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that my administration will make funds available to help businesses whose operations and revenue were significantly adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Wolf is seeking to give the money in grants to businesses that have the greatest need for help. The money is a surplus in the Insurance Department’s Worker’s Compensation Security Fund.
“Any grant money would be appreciated because we can reinvest in our stores,” said Greensburg business owner Kevin Miscik.
House Republican spokesman Jason Gottesman blamed Wolf’s policies for the pandemic’s effect on Pennsylvania businesses and urged him to lift those restrictions.
Wolf and lawmakers recently tapped into the fund for $185 million, to balance the delayed 2020-21 deficit-riddled budget that passed in November. The fund, financed by premiums on workers’ compensation insurance policies, ensures claims are paid if an insurer becomes insolvent.
“I urge the General Assembly to take action as soon as possible to get this money into the hands of the business owners and workers who need it,” Wolf said. “The money is available and ready to be distributed and our businesses can’t afford to wait.”
Lydic and Miscik say leaders need to work quickly as the upcoming months are “the slowest time in retail for everybody.”
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