WASHINGTON - On Friday President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), part of the national effort to aid individuals, small businesses, rural health care providers and other essential employers and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the beneficiaries are the Great Bend Municipal Airport, Barton Community College, and local school districts, hospitals and other businesses.
“The CARES Act delivers assistance to individuals, employers and their communities,” said U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall. “We must protect rural America by supporting our small businesses, keeping our hospitals open and supporting those who lose their job, through no fault of their own, during this pandemic. This bill is not perfect but it includes the assistance our ranchers, manufacturers and health care providers so desperately need right now.”
For the community of Great Bend this legislation includes support for Barton Community College in its delivery of online classes to students during the outbreak. Additionally it gives the public school districts and county officials additional funding to deal with COVID-19 patients. Finally, it provides funding for the agriculture community, which continues to struggle under adverse market conditions.
The totals going to local entities has yet to be announced, but overall, the CARES Act provides funding for:
• Airports: Support for Small Airports: Provides $100 million for general aviation airports and $56 million for Essential Air Service (EAS), keeping small and regional airports operational during the crisis.
• Schools: Provides $31 billion to support K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to help students continue to learn.
• Cities and towns: Provides $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants that help cities and towns across Kansas remain strong.
• Community banks: Will help banks quickly provide loans to those who need them by lowering the Community Bank Leverage Ratio, enabling banks to dip further into their capital reserves for increased lending during these times of stress.
• Agriculture: $23.5 billion was made available. $14 billion will go to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation (the fund used by the USDA to issue Market Facilitation Payments).
• Farmers and ranchers: Provides $9.5 billion for Secretary Perdue to provide support to farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19 including livestock producers; and includes an additional $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to address low commodity prices and trade disruptions.
Hospitals: $127 billion with $275 million of that to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals and $100 billion used to reimburse hospitals and healthcare providers for expenses related to COVID-19. • Small business owners: Increases the number of eligible businesses, nonprofits, and lenders that can participate in the SBA’s 7(a) loan program, providing temporary flexibility in the use of the loan, and allows for loan forgiveness measures to keep employees on the payroll during this uncertain time.
• Older Americans: Allows full transfer between congregate and home-delivered meal funding, and provides additional flexibility in the type of food that can be served.
• Displaced employees: Expanded unemployment insurance eligibility to support more individuals and employees laid off during the pandemic.
• Colleges: Assists community and four-year colleges in responding to the impact of the crisis
Higher education will receive $14.25 billion, plus $3 billion in state flexibility funding to allocate where it is most needed in the state’s education system.