Last week, the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly passed it’s COVID-19 relief package. The NC House Bill (HB) 196 appropriated the remaining $1.7 billion in federal money that was allocated to North Carolina in the Congressional relief package passed in December.
In a process that lacked transparency in ensuring equitable allocation of public dollars, the latest package includes funding for virus testing, tracing, and prevention needs, higher education emergency relief, child-care assistance and transportation projects.
The measure includes Gov. Roy Cooper’s directive for child care grants of more than $330 million and aid for rental assistance.
Yet, the bill failed to include measures proposed by Democrats such as bonuses for K-12, university and community college employees and larger and longer unemployment benefits, both paid for with state funds, to the bill.
While HB 196 takes steps in ensuring funding and relief for institutions, the bill still misses the mark in expanding Medicaid, increasing unemployment benefits and allocating the additional dollars still available to address needs across the state during the pandemic.
Bottom Line: Our lawmakers need to deploy relief to communities in an equitable way that isn’t a short-term fix, but rather an investment in long-term solutions to ensure an equitable, robust and just recovery for every North Carolinian.