Porter expresses concern for vital needs left unfunded in Governor’s current plan for CARES Act

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis) yesterday sent a letter to Governor Holcomb with allocation suggestions for remaining CARES Act money to ensure the safety and prosperity of Indiana.

Porter has repeatedly pushed Indiana's executive branch for increased transparency and oversight of this federal stimulus package. The little that has been revealed suggests that multiple vital areas will remain underfunded or unfunded if not given proper attention.

“Despite managing billions of dollars in federal aid, your administration has only chosen to be transparent about the allocation of $1.1 million,” Porter said. “As the state continues to develop new plans, policies and programs to prepare for the current and foreseeable impacts of COVID-19, I encourage you to rely on fellow lawmakers and community leaders to establish an equitable and sustainable funding framework for Indiana.”

Read the full letter below:

July 15, 2020

 

The Honorable Eric Holcomb

Governor of Indiana

200 West Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204

 

Dear Governor Holcomb:

Thank you for the actions your administration has taken thus far to ensure the safety and prosperity of Hoosiers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would be negligent for me, as both Ranking Minority Member of the House Ways and Means Committee and member of the State Budget Committee, not to express my concern for the current distribution plan of the $2.4 billion Indiana has received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Despite managing billions of dollars in federal aid, your administration has only chosen to be transparent about the allocation of $1.1 million. As the state continues to develop new plans, policies and programs to prepare for the current and foreseeable impacts of COVID-19, I encourage you to rely on fellow lawmakers and community leaders to establish an equitable and sustainable funding framework for Indiana.

I have identified the following areas that will be devastated if not given the proper attention:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Indiana must reserve funding for PPE expenses for schools, universities, local units of government, home health care workers and other essential workers not covered by existing programs or the small market program run through Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

Election Expenses: Additional resources need to be added to cover the 2020 general election expenses to ensure a safe and fair election. Around $3 million remain for Pandemic Election protection from the initial $7 million that were provided in the CARES Act for election activities. Pulling from the remaining $2.4 billion could allow for expanded vote- by-mail efforts and public service announcements (PSAs) on how to safely vote.

Funding for Minority Communities: Despite a lot of discussion about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities, there still has not been any dedicated funding to address the crisis. Although it is important to discuss these issues, nothing can be solved for Indiana's minority communities without the proper resources.

Insurance: Indiana needs to implement a COBRA-like program to pay the employee costs of maintaining health insurance after they have lost their job and consequently their insurance. Losing employment is challenging enough and no one should be without health care options during a deadly pandemic.

Rental Assistance: Indiana must dramatically increase the funding for the rental assistance program to ensure Hoosiers receive the maximum benefit.

Local Government Concerns: Townships are struggling to access the $300 million in the local government assistance fund with current processes requiring the application be facilitated through respective counties. Indiana state government creating direct access to these applications could allow local governments to better utilize and more readily access funding that already exists.

Additionally, many rural areas in Indiana have designated fire districts or fire territories. Increases in calls due to COVID- 19 could be made reimbursable to alleviate financial pressure for local governments.

These times are truly unprecedented, and Hoosiers must band together to overcome the challenges we face. Funding these areas would represent a step toward coming together as a state to mitigate these difficulties and look after one another. Please consider these and other steps to optimize the federal funding Indiana has received.

Sincerely,

Gregory W. Porter

State Representative

House District 96

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