CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and his staff are working on plans to assist residents, city, county and state officials in accessing the $4 billion in benefits for West Virginia that are included in the American Rescue Plan.
Manchin’s staff said the senator will host a series of meetings for residents and officials on the ARP.
Senator Manchin detailed the $4 billion in direct funding secured for West Virginia and more additional funding in grants and federal programs. This funding includes $677 million for cities across West Virginia and all 55 counties that will be administered by local governments, and $1.25 billion in funding for the state of West Virginia that will be administered by the Governor and state legislature.
On Wednesday, Manchin attended a virtual roundtable with members of the West Virginia Municipal League, West Virginia Association of Counties and County Commissioners Association of West Virginia to discuss and answer questions about the direct federal funding and the benefits to West Virginia local governments.
“West Virginia local governments are essential in the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic because of the essential services they provide to their communities. But local governments have been stretched thin by providing the essential services West Virginians depend on while facing drastic cuts in revenue as a result of this public health crisis,” Manchin said. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have advocated for funding to support local governments directly and I am proud to have secured $677 million for cities and counties across West Virginia in the latest COVID-19 relief package. For the first time in as long as I can remember, local governments have the flexibility to use these funds to fix and upgrade sewer, water and broadband infrastructure without all of the bureaucratic red tape. This evening, I discussed the benefits of this funding with local leaders from across the state who truly understand the incredible impact this funding will make for our communities. I am committed to advocating for West Virginia’s local governments and will continue to work directly with them to ensure they are supported as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”
City and county officials expressed their support of Manchin’s efforts during Wednesday’s call.
WVML President Kevin Knowles, Martinsburg’s Councilor, said, “Throughout this pandemic, our community leaders, first responders and those of our critical local workforce have worked hard to protect our communities from COVID-19. Senator Manchin has been a steadfast ally of local government and has once again delivered for West Virginia. Through the passage of the American Rescue Plan we can set out to recover and rebuild our communities from the long-term impacts of COVID-19.”
Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Riffle, who serves as WVACO president, said, “After this long, hard year, your tireless service to West Virginians has shone through once again – from providing comfort when we first faced this pandemic with lockdowns; getting PPE distributed across the state to enhance public health and safety; providing testing; getting the people more vaccines and establishing more vaccination sites; and now to passing this bill – we are seeing ‘the light at the end of the tunnel.’”
Lewis County Commissioner Agnes Queen, who serves as CCAWV president, said, “My sincerest appreciation to Senator Manchin for his leadership and guidance during these difficult times. His efforts to assist during the COVID Pandemic and recovery have greatly aided the citizens of West Virginia.”
Among the benefits for West Virginia in the ARP:
Manchin wants to provide residents and state and local officials with as much information as possible on the available funds.
Direct Aid to Individuals and Families:
Stimulus Checks – 891,039 West Virginia households will receive payments, totaling in $2,275,091 for the state. This includes:
— Direct $1,400 checks to every person making $75,000 or less
— Direct checks of $2,800 to every couple that files jointly and makes $150,000 or less OR $112,500 (or less) as head of household
— III. An additional $1,400 for each qualifying child or dependent
Child Tax Credit – Allows parents to receive a tax credit of up to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 for children 17 and under. Expansion will benefit approximately 346,000 West Virginia children under age 17.
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) – The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is now fully refundable and the credit was increased to cover childcare costs up to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for two or more children.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – Expanded eligibility for the EITC credit to over 17 million adults with no children and increased the credit to $1,502 from $543. Expansion would assist an additional 110,000 workers in West Virginia.
Unemployment Assistance – 37,390 West Virginians will receive unemployment extensions. Assistance includes:
— Providing an additional $300/week in unemployment benefits through September 6, 2021
— Extending the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for self-employed and gig workers through September 6, 2021
— Extending the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program for workers who have exhausted their state benefits through September 6, 2021
— Preventing a surprise tax bill for workers who received unemployment compensation in 2020 by making the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits non-taxable for individuals making less than $150,000
Health Insurance Premium Assistance – In West Virginia, a family of four at 458% of the Federal Poverty Level, could see a $1,241 reduction in monthly premium expenses and an individual with an income of $55,000/year could see premiums drop from around $1,375 to $390 a month. West Virginia patients will see some of the highest savings in the country due to these enhanced premium tax credits.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan — In the first round of EIDL Advances, West Virginia received 12,552 advances totaling $41.445 million. In EIDL loans, WV has received 8,063 loans totaling $433.616 million.
Direct Aid to Small Businesses
— Includes $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). As of March 7, 2021, almost 7,000 West Virginians and businesses have accessed loans through the program, totaling almost $558 million in funding through PPP.
— $25 billion for restaurants and $1.25 billion in additional funding for shuttered venues. WV has lost nearly 30,000 jobs in the restaurant industry since last year, almost 40% of the restaurant workforce.
— $175 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for assistance to small and rural stations – like WV Public Broadcasting – threatened by declines in non-Federal revenues.
Broadband Expansion and Hotspots
— $10 billion for broadband infrastructure in rural states, with a minimum of $100 million per state. West Virginia will receive $138 million
— Nearly $7.2 billion for schools to purchase hotspots and other devices to enable distance learning efforts around the country
— $200 million for libraries to purchase hotspots and other devices to increase connectivity in rural areas – West Virginia will receive at least $2 million
Local Government Support: $677 million will go directly to local governments – cities and counties – across West Virginia, including
— $176 million for larger metropolitan cities
— $153 million for smaller cities
— $348 million for 55 counties
COVID vaccines, testing and supplies:
— $20 billion for COVID-19 vaccines
— West Virginia will receive $11 million in supplemental vaccine dollars, in addition to its allocation of state vaccine grants determined by the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary
— $50 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing
— 10 billion for the Defense Production Act (DPA) for COVID-19 supplies
— $800 million for West Virginia schools
— $190 million for West Virginia’s colleges and universities (including public and private, non-profit schools)
— $10 million going to West Virginia in emergency funding for Head Start
— $260 million for West Virginia for childcare
— Discharge of student loan debt tax-free from 2021-2025. This means that a borrower will not have to pay taxes on student loan debt forgiven during this five-year period.
Support for Seniors: $9 million going to West Virginia to provide senior nutrition services (including home-based delivered meals), support caregivers and invest in preventive services
Housing: Senator Manchin’s bipartisan amendment secured $800 million in emergency funding within the Department of Education to identify students experiencing homelessness and provide essential wrap-around services.
— $152 million going to West Virginia for emergency rental assistance
— $38.5 million to West Virginia for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
— $500 million for Low Income Water Assistance
Transportation and Economic Development
— $8 million for West Virginia’s airports
— $24 million for West Virginia’s urban and rural transit systems.
This article provided by the West Virginia Press Association.