ROANOKE, Va. – The American Rescue Plan aims to do more than just offer a third round of stimulus checks.
U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine highlighted the benefits the plan would provide for Virginians.
More than $2 billion is headed to the commonwealth state to help public schools after the coronavirus pandemic hit. Warner pointing out most of the funds would be spent in the summer.
To ease child care costs for families and centers, millions more are expected, such as $490 million for Virginia Child Care Stabilization Grants.
Families can also claim an extra one thousand dollars, fully refundable, in child tax credit.
Between the ages of 6 and 17, families can receive $3,000 per child and $3,600 per child below the age of 6.
Warner said this change will benefit more than 1.5 million children in Virginia.
He added if the nation keeps the child tax credit permanently, it could potentially help 40% of children make it out of poverty.
About 249,000 children in Virginia are currently in poverty.
“I can’t think of a better legacy not just for the American Rescue Plan but coming out of COVID for a long-term basis in a sense of cutting down child poverty in this country by more than half,” Warner said.
More than 250,000 Virginians will now gain an extension of unemployment benefits.
Millions of jobs disappeared when the economy tanked due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Therefore, unemployment will be extended to early September with unemployment compensation remaining at $300 a week.
However, Warner said lawmakers fall short when addressing long-term retraining for Virginians who will never see their previous jobs return.
“In any future legislation, I’m going to be looking for dedicated targeted resources for rescaling and upscaling of our workforce,” he said.
A new program is also being introduced called the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program.
People will be able to apply to start April 26 but the Virginia Employment Commission will release more information in the future.
Better broadband may be on the way now too since the plan will send $222 million to tackle the issue.
Warner said the trouble with deploying broadband is that local providers are looking for an incentive to offer expanded coverage.
He said more flexibility is also needed for the school e-rate program to provide internet access at home for some students.
During the pandemic, the program received extra funding to establish hot spots in school parking lots.
“But that doesn’t do much good if you got to drive your kid to the school parking lot to do homework of if you’re going to work from that parking lot,” he said.
Warner also said more work needs to be done to accurately show the map of broadband availability in the state.
A breakdown of how much aid will be sent to localities was also provided by Warner’s team.