North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed two coronavirus relief bills into law on Monday, May 4.
The North Carolina General Assembly had hoped to pass a coronavirus relief bill on Thursday, April 30, but negotiations between the state House and Senate to reconcile the bills held the passage up.
However, on Saturday, May 2, both the state House and Senate passed the two bills unanimously. The original House “Pandemic Response Act” was $1.7 billion and the Senate bill $1.3 billion. The final spending bill came in at $1.56 billion.
The other bill, the “Covid-19 Recovery Act,” provides tax relief, streamlines unemployment access and makes reforms to government operations, particularly in education and health care to assist North Carolinians during the economic shutdown.
One of the issues that had to be settled in the legislature was that the Senate bill increased unemployment benefits from $350 per week to $400 per week. In addition to the state unemployment payments, those receiving unemployment payments are also eligible to receive $600 per week from the federal government.
In the press conference after the signing, House Speaker Tim Moore said that the legislature wanted to look at unemployment trends over the next few weeks.
Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Phil Berger said he expected the state to move in the direction of increasing the unemployment payment to $400 as the Senate had in its bill.
Cooper said that there was concern about what happens after the $600 a week federal supplement runs out.
The “Pandemic Response Act” provides $75 million for school nutrition, $70 million for summer learning programs, $30 million for electronic devices for students, $5 million for electronic devices for teachers plus other funding for K-12 public education as well as funding for the university and community college systems.
It also provides $150 million for local government COVID-19 needs, $125 million for small business loans through the Golden LEAF Foundation, $6 million for food banks, $25 million for testing, tracing and trends related to COVID-19, $25 million for additional public health capacity and $300 million for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, to name a few of the allocations.