Governor Walz released a revised supplemental budget allocating an additional $356 million towards a COVID-19 response. The revised budget leaves $811 million on the bottom line. Some of the budget recommendations below will be passed this week as part of an Omnibus bill specifically dealing with COVID-19.
Details on the Walz updated supplemental budget recommendations include:
- Financial support to organizations licensed to provide childcare to emergency responders. These grants would be administered through regional entities across the state and support approximately 1,000 family- and center-based providers as they care for children of health care and other emergency workers for approximately three months. Childcare providers may not have ongoing revenue to continue serving children amidst COVID-19 pandemic imposed staff and enrollment fluctuations, closures, and increased operating costs.
- Emergency assistance payment up to $500 per Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) family to help address significant challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This one-time payment is expected to support 27,700 households and will be delivered through whatever means families currently receive MFIP benefits: EBT cards, direct deposit or check. The Governor also recommends a $20 per case reimbursement to counties and tribes to defray administrative costs associated with this proposal.
- Increase funding to the Minnesota Food Shelf Program (MFSP) to address food banks, food shelves, and transportation needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This recommendation provides additional funds to seven regional food banks to enable specialized responses to community needs. It also provides additional money to purchase supplies to almost 400 food shelves across the state. Additionally, it provides dollars to fund a network of transportation organizations to assist in the distribution of food and supplies from food shelves to affected persons in the community, including elderly, disabled, and quarantined Minnesotans.
- Codify the temporary issue waivers or modifications to state requirements to help ensure services are delivered without delay. Flexibilities already being implemented include regulatory changes designed to protect benefits and ensure people do not lose coverage during this outbreak, cover COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment costs, allow for in-person work to be converted to phone work, and other changes to allow Minnesotans supported by the Department of Human Services to shelter in place without losing their support.
- Resources for additional shelter space for homeless persons through the Emergency Services Program (ESP). The only eligibility requirement for ESP is that recipients are experiencing homelessness. This proposal provides additional emergency shelter to protect this potentially medically fragile population from Covid-19. Reducing unsheltered persons protects this group and limits the spread of the disease.
- Additional resources to homeless and drop-in shelter providers for cleaning and sanitation supplies. These additional resources will be distributed through the Emergency Services Program (ESP) to local providers and tribal governments. This funding will support these providers in complying with CDC guidance on sanitation and personal protective equipment. Following this guidance can reduce the spread of Covid-19.
- Funds to purchase motel rooms to isolate homeless persons exposed to Covid-19 or who are experiencing respiratory illness. People experiencing homelessness are unable to meet the CDC guidelines for self-isolation. Most homeless shelters do not have space capable of isolating individuals. Isolating persons affected limits the spread of Covid-19 among vulnerable populations.
- Expand staff to homeless shelters. These funds would be distributed through the Emergency Services Program (ESP) to local providers and tribal governments. Additional resources will ensure these facilities have the staff necessary to protect the health and wellness of program recipients while increasing the number of persons served. Additional staffing resources may also be needed in cases where workers are quarantined or cannot work because they are caring for someone with Covid-19.
- Increase housing support rates by 15% for three months. Housing support provides assistance to persons over 65 with low-income and individuals under 65 with disabilities. Housing support also makes payments to pay for rent, utilities, food, household supplies, and other necessities for around 20,000 Minnesotans. Increasing rates reduces the financial burdens placed on these individuals and ensures these people do not become homeless.
- Fund the Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP). The program provides direct cash assistance for housing payments, utilities, and other housing-related expenses. FHPAP serves households who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines and who are more at risk of homelessness.
- Allow the Department of Commerce to work with regulated entities and individuals to prevent economic harm and includes, but is not limited to, extending registration deadlines, licensing renewal deadlines, unclaimed property claims submission requirements, Petrofund applications, filing deadlines for businesses, etc.
- More funding for the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program. The program provides an 80% loan guarantee for businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and are unable to access SBA disaster loan assistance. This would be another way to help businesses across the state secure private funding (i.e. lines of credit). This program would provide state General Fund backing of up to $10 million.
- Create a new COVID-19 Minnesota Fund in the state treasury for expenditures related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Money in the account is appropriated to the commissioner of management and budget and may be disbursed, or transferred to agencies, as necessary to protect Minnesotans from the COVID-19 outbreak, and to maintain the operations of government during the peacetime emergency. For example, the fund could be used to pay for increased healthcare and staffing costs in prison facilities and staffing and overtime in direct care and treatment.
- Direct assistance and funding to veterans and their families who are facing financial burdens as a result of the COVID-19 virus and its economic effects.