Hawaii to receive over $6.1B in federal fundsFunding News / By systems Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed Saturday by the Senate and poised for imminent passage in the House will provide over $6.1 billion in estimated funding for Hawaii. “From Hawaii’s standpoint, this will be the most impactful relief bill we’ve passed,” Schatz said. “It is designed to crush the virus and allow us to get our lives and our community back.” The bill includes $1.6 billion to bolster Hawaii’s state budget which “will wipe out the budget shortfall” for 2021, and has another $444 million for county help, Schatz said. At one point Gov. David Ige’s administration projected the shortfall to be $1.4 billion for each of the next four years. Direct cash payments of $1,400 per adult for many in Hawaii are expected to total approximately $1.7 billion, Schatz said. Small businesses and nonprofits would receive $60 billion nationally. Schatz noted that the Hawaii small- business community “has been absolutely clobbered” because of the restrictions and tourism dropoff. A restaurants provision in the American Rescue Plan Act includes grant money to cover the net operating loss of any nonchain restaurant in 2020 due to COVID-19, he said. “There will be enough money to help the Department of Health to deploy vaccines, especially in hard-to-reach rural communities. There’s more money for testing,” Schatz said Monday in a phone interview. Schatz expects the bill to go for a House vote tonight or Wednesday morning, but he predicted President Joe Biden will sign the measure into law by the end of Wednesday. “Part of the purpose of this bill is to prevent what (Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen) is calling permanent economic scarring,” the Hawaii Democrat said. “It’s not enough for us to have a slow recovery; we have to make sure that our small businesses, families, governments have working capital to survive — otherwise this could be a five- to eight-year slog out of the hole that we’re in.” Schatz acknowledged the relief bill “is really designed to get us through the year” and that “we don’t anticipate that we’re going to do multiple relief packages this year.” The final vote was split 50-49 along party lines, with no Republican senators voting for the relief bill. A Morning Consult/Politico poll reported Feb. 24 that 76% of voters, including 60% of Republicans, supported the plan. Schatz said the goal with the bill was “to get us to the other side of this crisis” this year. “Obviously, with this pandemic you can’t predict with too much confidence, but the hope is that by summer, things are getting significantly better and by the fall we have some version of normal life that’s returning,” he said. Schatz said provisions in the COVID-19 relief package include: >> Unemployment assistance of at least $575 million in estimated funding for Hawaii workers. • Aid will cover salaries up to about $65,000 through Sept. 6 with an additional $300 per week. • The first $10,200 of unemployment benefits collected in 2020 will be tax-free for those households whose income was less than $150,000. >> Rent and mortgage relief — estimated $226.5 million for Hawaii. • An estimated $152 million to help Hawaii residents who lost their job or saw a significant reduction in income due to the pandemic to make rent. >> Small businesses and nonprofits — $60 billion nationally. • An additional $7.25 billion for forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses and nonprofits to help them maintain existing workforces and pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage and utilities. • $25 billion for a new program at the Small Business Administration that will make grants to restaurants, bars and other food and drinking establishments. >> Education — at least $634 million in estimated funding for Hawaii schools. • About $391 million for elementary and secondary school (K-12) emergency relief funding. • An additional $85 million specifically for Native Hawaiian education programs. • About $98 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to support Hawaii’s colleges and universities. >> Transportation — at least $380 million in estimated funding for Hawaii. • $70 million in Capital Improvement Grants for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit, or HART, to help the city pay for part of its share by covering the loss in local tax revenue caused by the pandemic. • $144 million for Hawaii airports. Funds can be used for operations and expenses related to coronavirus safety procedures as well as a set-aside for aid to in-terminal airport concessions and other service providers. • Access to $15 billion in national funding to airlines and contractors for workforce salaries and benefits to prevent layoffs.