COVID-19 Federal Stimulus, Ohio Legislation Impacts OAPSE Members

To: OAPSE Members
From: Executive Director Joe Rugola
Re: Update on Federal Stimulus and Ohio Legislation on Vouchers, Elections
The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to advance the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), a recovery and stimulus bill which will give direct payments to families, send billions to state and local governments and provide critical money to K-12 education and community colleges and universities.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the measure on Friday. The record turnaround of the legislation – backed by our national union, AFSCME, means the emergency money will start quickly flowing to OAPSE members, states, local governments, libraries, departments of developmental disabilities and community colleges.
More federal action will be needed over the course of this health crisis, but this is a good start to support state, local and educational budgets and the families impacted by COVID-19.
The CARES Act:
  • Provides $150 billion to states and local governments to reimburse them for costs associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency (including declining income tax revenues because employees are unable to report to work).
  • Provides $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to coronavirus. They are to be distributed as follows:
  • Elementary and Secondary Education will get $13.5 billion.
  • Each state will receive a share of $3 billion for governors to allocate at their discretion for emergency support grants to local school districts and institutions of higher education that have been most significantly impacted by the coronavirus.
  • $14.25 billion will go to institutions of higher learning for emergency relief.
  • Provides direct payments to Americans. Individuals and single heads of household receive $1,200, and married couples receive $2,400.  In addition, families will receive $500 per child younger than age 17.
  • Payments phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes over $75,000 ($150,000 for couples). Anyone making over $99,000 would not get a payment ($198,000 for couples). Money is expected to go out by April 6.
Ohio Legislation
  • EdChoice vouchers – which rob our public schools of critical funding – are frozen for a year. The number of school buildings impacted by vouchers was set to go from 517 to more than 1,200 – but OAPSE and our education coalition were able to stop the increase and get the number of vouchers frozen until the next Ohio budget cycle. This is a victory for OAPSE members, but our union will keep working with our friends in the Ohio legislature to reduce the number of EdChoice vouchers.
  • School proficiency testing and report cards have been waived for the school year.
  • Rainy day funds may be moved to balance this year’s state budget. The rainy day fund – or savings the state has put aside over the years – is currently at $2.7 billion. The money may be used to fill the budget hole created by the state’s response to COVID-19.
  • Primary Election. If you have already voted, you don’t need to do anything further and your vote will count. The state legislature has set April 28 as the last day of voting in Ohio’s primary election. No in-person voting will occur! You must vote by mail, and your ballot must be received by your local board of elections by 7:30 p.m. on April 28 or postmarked by April 27. You may request an absentee ballot by clicking here or by calling your local board of elections. If you complete the absentee ballot request form online, you must print it, sign it and send it back to the board of elections. You must pay the postage for this. Once the board of elections receives your ballot request, you will be mailed an official ballot to complete at home and mail in. Postage for your ballot will be paid by the board of elections.
Check our website, Facebook, Twitter and your email for current updates on the COVID-19 health crisis and how our members are responding.
Also, we know many of you are at work cleaning our schools, preparing and delivering meals, and taking care of children and our communities. Please send us photos of this important work — with names and local unions –so we can post to our social media accounts and share with all Ohioans how important the work of OAPSE members is to our communities. And please be mindful of physical distancing as you take photos of the important work you are doing!