As many of you know, on March 27 the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump.
This CARES Act provided for a financial package worth more than $2 trillion in economic relief that included payments to each state for purposes of protecting public health, assisting local economies in the reopening process, and preserving jobs for the welfare of American families.
Our state allocation was slightly over $1.9 billion. Gov. Henry McMaster promptly set about to establish a legislative Reopen South Carolina Committee. He additionally provided for a blue-ribbon Accelerate SC advisory task force of leaders from both the government and private sectors (including health, education, small business and hospitality-tourism) to review specific needs, and make recommendations to the legislative committee.
Adding to our state's dilemma in the interim has been record-shattering unemployment forced by business shutdowns as a result of COVID-19. Although South Carolina's overall unemployment is slightly better than the national average, it's still nearly 14%, with approximately 559,000 workers filing for jobless benefits and the state paying out $1.5 billion.
A 50-page Accelerate SC advisory report, with 42 recommendations was received two weeks ago, and this past week the General Assembly was reconvened for us to vote on how the $1.9 billion will be spent.
In general, the major expenditures are as follows, and will be finalized over the next few weeks. Expenditures must be made by year end, and then entities will be reimbursed.
• $500 million to replenish the unemployment trust fund
• $270 million for local counties, municipalities, PSDs and colleges
• $210 million for the schools sector
• $125 million for hospitals
• $50 million for broadband expansion across the state, in particular to facilitate telehealth and other similar critical needs
• $42 million for continued COVID-19 testing
• $16 million for PPE (personal protective equipment)
• $10 million for management and auditing of the process
It's our understanding that a "Big 8" independent accounting firm will be handling details and management of the reimbursement process.
Hats off to the PGA and Steve Wilmot
I hope that many of you got to watch the nationally televised RBC Heritage, June 18-21. Considering the adverse circumstances of operating in the midst of an on-going pandemic, I believe the event could not have been more beneficial for the reputation of Hilton Head Island as a magnificent place to visit, live and especially work-from-home, if one has the choice.
The aerial images of The Harbour Town Golf Links, coupled with the panoramic vistas of our Lowcountry beauty and lavish commentary by the broadcasters could not have been better. Thank you, PGA Tour, for giving Hilton Head Island the opportunity to shine, and to our superb tournament director Steve Wilmot for making everything happen so well.
Jeff Bradley is the representative for District 123 in the State House of Representatives.