Congress passed a historic $2 trillion relief package in March that seeks to help American families, workers and industries as they wrestle with unemployment and health threats from the coronavirus.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, among other things, provides $1,200 to most U.S. adults, along with significant funding for small businesses, large corporations, hospitals and education.
Each state is expected to receive, at a minimum, $1.25 billion.
So, what does the Bluegrass State stand to gain?
Kentucky is getting nearly $2
That's according to figures provided by Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who is chairman of the House Budget Committee.
The bill makes "unprecedented investments in protecting the health of our families, workers and communities," he said.
The centerpiece of the stimulus plan offers $150 billion in the form of a relief fund for local and state governments. This will provide additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, Yarmuth's office said.
Kentucky looks to receive about $1.7 billion in dedicated funding from that pot of money alone.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office emphasized how the state will also be eligible to apply for a share of the significant health care funding that was approved, such as:
- $100 billion in reimbursement to hospitals and healthcare providers.
- $16 billion for the strategic national stockpile to procure personal protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies.
- $1.32 billion in supplemental funding to community health centers on the front lines of testing and treating patients for COVID-19.
- $250 million to increase access to mental health care services.
- $180 million to carry out telehealth and rural health activities.
- $100 million for SAMHSA Emergency Response Grants, which is flexible funding to address mental health and drug abuse.
- $4B in direct checks
The one-time recovery rebates are one of the more talked about benefits that Kentuckians will likely see in the coming days or weeks.
Under the CARES Act, individuals making up to $75,000 a year will receive $1,200 while a married coupled earning $150,000 annually will get $2,400. You also get $500 per child.
The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy said this provision is more significant for the poorest 20% of Kentuckians, given the rebates are a "flat amount per person, as a share of income."
In total, the group says, the Bluegrass State is set to receive $4 billion in rebates.
One problem, however, is the stimulus plan requires income tax filing to receive the rebate payment. An estimated 30 million Americans do not file, the policy group says, "including people in deep poverty, veterans and people with disabilities."
Expanded unemployment benefits
One area of deepening concern is the rising jobless rate, as many industries are being wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank, projects 96,000 Kentuckians will lose their jobs in the coming weeks because of the virus.
The CARES Act looks to step in by increasing unemployment benefits by $600 a week for the next four months. That is significant given Kentucky's average unemployment check is about $380 a week, according to state statistics.
Such a boost will bring an estimated $623 million into Kentucky, the foundation said.
Homelessness grants are coming
Long before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the country and state, Kentucky had an estimated 4,079 people experiencing homelessness on any given day, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
People living in vehicles, staying in shelters or sleeping outdoors are particularly susceptible to the coronavirus, given they are less likely to be able to satisfy health recommendations to curb the virus's spread.
Yarmuth's office says the relief bill provides $2 billion for HUD emergency grants to states that will be distributed by a formula.
These funds are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention and eviction prevention assistance.
Kentucky will receive an estimated $25.9 million funding for this provision, according to Yarmuth's office.
The relief package also provides an additional $2 billion that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.
Child care & early education
Across the country, governors, including Kentucky's Andy Beshear, have ordered child care centers closed to stop the virus's spread.
The CARES Act looks to help by providing $3.5 billion to support childcare and early education, of which Kentucky will receive an estimated $67.2 million.
Public transit gets a boost
The Transit Authority of River City in Louisville announced weeks ago it was reducing its service frequency and suspending several bus routes around the Louisville area in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But those routes left behind are even more crowded, union leaders and passengers say.
Overall, the CARES Act provides $25 billion to transit agencies, Yarmuth's office said, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented.
This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency. Kentucky will get about $132.7 million in funding for this provision.
McConnell's office said the relief bill also contains about $10 billion to maintain operations at U.S. airports, which are facing a record drop in passengers. There is another $56 million going toward the Essential Air Service program, which McConnell's people say will help maintain existing air service to rural communities.
2020 election aid
Kentucky election officials rescheduled the state's primary election to June 23, and there is an open discussion on allowing voters to mail in their ballots if necessary.
The Bluegrass State is set to receive $6 million to help prepare for the 2020 elections, which can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and expand online registration.
What about my utility bills?
While many Kentuckians are seeking unemployment benefits, the CARES Act also looks to help out with the cost of utilities.
Overall, the relief package provides about $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills.
Kentucky will receive an estimated $17.9 million in funding going toward the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.
The state could also apply for a share of other pots of money related to the stimulus.
Those funds include:
- $933 million for the Army National Guard to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus.
- $557 million for the Air National Guard to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus.
- $100 million for Reconnect Pilot, which pays for the costs of construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.
- $25 million for a distance learning, telemedicine and broadband program.
- $15.5 billion in additional funding for SNAP to ensure all Americans, including seniors and children, receive the food they need. The bill includes $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs in order to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session.
McConnell's office also spotlighted how in early March, Kentucky raked in about $1.6 million in federal funds that went to two-dozen health centers across the state.