OPINION

GUEST EDITORIAL: The American Rescue Plan Is the relief West Virginians need

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
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CHARLESTON - The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy applauds the passage of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation is the kind of action the country needs at this moment, when unemployed workers are still struggling to pay their bills, millions of families are falling further behind on rent and at risk of facing homelessness, and parents are worrying about how they will feed their children.

Thank you to Senator Joe Manchin for working hard to pass the American Rescue Plan and delivering the relief our state needs.

Key elements of the COVID relief package that will help families stay afloat in West Virginia include: (1) increased housing assistance and an extension of increased SNAP food benefits to help families keep their homes and afford food; (2) extended pandemic unemployment assistance through Sept. 6; (3) financial assistance to help people meet urgent expenses, such as rent, groceries, utility bills, and car payments, delivered through expanded tax credits and stimulus payments; and (4) improved access to affordable health coverage through enhanced premium tax credits for people with low incomes and middle-class families.

The package also includes much-needed state and local government fiscal relief to keep our communities going. These funds will help West Virginia and our localities restore jobs for teachers, firefighters, and other critical public employees, prevent further layoffs and cuts to core services like education and health care, and provide assistance to people who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and recession. In addition, there are dedicated funds to support schools that can be used to pay for the cost of distance learning, safe in-person instruction, caring for the physical and mental health of returning students, and most importantly, aid with learning loss students have suffered.

“The passage of the American Rescue Plan is a victory for the economic security of West Virginia families. At the one-year mark of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, it has become increasingly clear that economic recovery isn’t going to happen overnight, particularly for low- and middle-income households and people of color, who have faced the deepest and longest impacts from the pandemic,” says WVCBP executive director Kelly Allen.

“We have more work to do to build a more equitable future that works for everyone. We look forward to working with West Virginia's congressional delegation to convey the importance for our people and our economy of enacting permanent policies that will reduce the longstanding inequities that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.”

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is a public policy research organization that is nonpartisan, nonprofit, and statewide. The Center focuses on how policy decisions affect all West Virginians, especially low- and moderate-income families.