RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday that he will sign a bill with plans for spending $1.1 billion in federal COVID-19 aid in North Carolina.
House Bill 1105 received nearly unanimous support in the Republican-controlled legislature, passing 44-5 in the Senate and 104-10 in the House on Thursday.
“This budget followed my recommendations on school enrollment funding and invested in important areas like high speed internet access and disaster relief, but legislators should have done more to expand Medicaid, support small businesses, pay our educators, assist with rent and utilities relief and further help unemployed North Carolinians,” said Cooper, a Democrat, in a statement.
The bill authorizes a $335 one-time check to each household in the state with at least one child. While designed to help families with child care or for tutoring school children struggling with online classes, the money can be used for anything.
It increases jobless benefits by $50 a week through the end of the year.
Also on Thursday, the N.C. Division of Employment Security started distributing extended federal benefits of $300 a week to displaced workers as mandated by President Trump in an executive order. Initially, that money is for three weeks.
House Bill 1105 also includes $24 million for repairing damage caused by a 5.1 magnitude earthquake centered south of Sparta on Aug. 9. Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga), credited with leading this relief effort, said little of the damage was covered by insurance because earthquakes seldom hit the area. The $24 million has $600,013 for repairing the Alleghany County Courthouse, $160,000 for repairing the Bruce Wayne Osborne VFW Post building in Sparta and funds for home repairs.
The bill includes $2.5 million for counties to increase election day poll worker pay by $100 each and $1 million to provide each county $10,000 for election day expenses. It provides the State Board of Elections with $1 million for an advertising campaign to recruit election day workers and has $500,000 to be held in reserve by the state board to reimburse counties for additional election day worker pay.
It also includes:
• $21 million to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to help improve digital interconnectivity for students;
• $25 million to the UNC Board of Governors to provide funds to transition students to online education and provide funds for students and families impacted by COVID-19;
• $12 million for domestic violence centers and sexual assault programs;
• $2.1 million for state park and trail needs caused by high demand and record visitation levels due to COVID-19. Eligible uses include trail construction and maintenance, safety and health maintenance needs, updates at public-facing facilities, temporary employees for cleaning and safety and more;
• $5 million for buying personal protective equipment (PPE) for use on community college campuses and $13 million for buying PPE on campuses of the state university system;
• $14.3 million a partnership between the Manufacturing Solutions Center at Catawba Valley Community College, Gaston College's Textile Technology Center, City of Conover, Gaston County and the private sector to create a launch pad for prototyping and testing reusable PPE products for entrepreneurs and existing manufacturers;
• $5.3 million to Gaston County to construct an Incubator and Extrusion Center for Advanced Fibers for Gaston College's Textile Technology Center;
• $10,000 for Watauga County to buy a portable broadband kit for the Appalachian District Health Department to facilitate real-time transmission of testing data from COVID-19 mobile testing sites in rural areas served by AppHealth.