Updated April 29 and May 4
The NC House and Senate passed two bills this weekend that:
- Appropriated $1.426 billion of the $3.5 billion NC is expected to receive from the federal CARES Act
- Made policy changes as part of the state’s COVID-19 response
NCECF put together this chart to share the early childhood provisions across the Governor, House and Senate budget proposals. It has been updated to include the final budget allocations.
The Legislature convened on April 28th to pass COVID-19 emergency relief legislation and decide how to allocate federal relief funds. No state funds were discussed.
This overview has been updated to provide information about the final bills that were passed the weekend of May 2-3. It also shares details about the House committee bills that were discussed earlier in April, and about the House and Senate Appropriations bills, which were discussed in committee on Wednesday, April 29.
HB 1043: 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act allocates $1.426 billion of the $3.5 billion in federal CARES Act funds NC is expected to receive. This chart shares the provisions that most directly impact early childhood.
SB 704 outlines policy changes to support the state’s COVID-19 response, including many of the provisions outlined below that came out of the House committees prior to session. Early childhood highlights include:
- Provides waivers of testing requirements for public and non-public schools and home schools, identification of low-performing schools, and school report cards for the 2019-20 school year
- Provides for principals to make promotion decisions for Read to Achieve the way they do other grade-levels, waive Read to Achieve reading camps for this summer, and provide for a 4th grade reading assessment within the first 10 days of the start of the school year
- Adjusts the school calendar, including providing for school to start back one week early in August
- Requires districts to submit remote learning plans for the 2020-21 school year, in preparation for future interruptions in education
- The K-3 class-size reduction phase-in does not appear to be delayed in the final bill, as proposed by the House Education committee.
- The final bill include many of the House Health Committee recommendations, including: create a state plan for a stockpile of personal protective equipment and testing supplies for public health emergencies, broaden authorization for who can administer COVID-19 tests and (future) vaccines, study the issues that impact health care delivery and the health care workforce during a pandemic, provide liability protection for health care workers, issue temporary waivers of training requirements and other requirements (including the requirement that current child care providers complete a fingerprint-based criminal history check every three years, and expand use of telehealth during the crisis.
- Expanding Medicaid is addressed in HB 1043. It provides temporary Medicaid coverage only for COVID-19 testing, rather than for prevention, testing and treatment, as proposed by the Governor and the House Health Committee.
Read on if you are interested in the House Committee recommendations, or the House and Senate Appropriations processes.
House Committee Action
The House Finance, Health and Education Committees each discussed and moved forward bills provided to them from the subcommittees of the House Select Committee on COVID-19.
House Finance committee bills:
- COVID-19 Response Act – Economic Support would increase access to unemployment benefits, provide tax credits to employers for their contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and extend some tax deadlines and waive the accrual of interest on those tax payments.
- Small Business Emergency Loan Act would appropriate $75M to the Golden Leaf Foundation for entities to provide emergency bridge loan funding for small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.
House Health committee bill:
- COVID-19 Health Care Working Group Policy Recommendations would create a state plan for a stockpile of personal protective equipment and testing supplies for public health emergencies, broaden authorization for who can administer COVID-19 tests and (future) vaccines, study the issues that impact health care delivery and the health care workforce during a pandemic, provide liability protection for health care workers, provide temporary Medicaid coverage for the prevention, testing and treatment of COVID-19, issue temporary waivers of training requirements and other requirements, and expand use of telehealth during the crisis.
- Specific to early childhood, the House Health committee has discussed a $20 million line item to support food, safety, shelter and childcare, which is mirrored in the Governor’s proposal for use of federal funds.
House Education committee bill, which NCECF reported on last week:
- Education Omnibus/COVID-19 would:
- Provide waivers of testing requirements for public and non-public schools and home schools, identification of low-performing schools, and school report cards for the 2019-20 school year
- Provide for principals to make promotion decisions for Read to Achieve the way they do other grade-levels, waive Read to Achieve reading camps for this summer, and provide for a 4th grade reading assessment within the first 10 days of the start of the school year
- Modify the school calendar to allow remote instruction to suffice for 2019-20 and waive attendance requirements;
- Provide for supplementary August instruction for the Jump Start program
- Provide for school to start back one week early
- Provides budgetary flexibility for local school boards
- Delays K-3 class-size reduction phase-in
- Eliminates various reports and waives requirements for data
- Modifies various policies related to Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs)
- Extends timelines on some requirements for principal preparation and teacher licensure updates
- Waivers relevant to UNC and community colleges
House and Senate Appropriations Committees
The House and Senate Appropriations committees both met April 29th to discuss bills allocating federal funds for the COVID-19 relief effort.
There are many similarities across the two bills, and some key differences. NCECF put together this chart to share the early childhood provisions across the Governor, House and Senate proposals. A few key differences among the proposals:
- Childcare: The Senate bill provides more federal money for immediate childcare expenses than the Governor and House. Childcare advocates are concerned that neither proposal includes sufficient funds and have released a recommendation for funding of a relief effort for the childcare system, along with stories from the field of childcare providers impacted by COVID-19.
- K-12 Education: The Governor and House propose allocating considerably more federal money to K-12 public schools for connectivity, school health and support staff, and instructional support, and for school nutrition services than does the Senate
- Healthcare: The Senate bill requires a host of COVID-19-related data reporting and other requirements from DHHS before funds for testing, tracing and watching trends are released, which are not required in the House version. The Senate does not echo the House and Governor proposals to temporarily expand Medicaid to those under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for the purpose of testing and treatment of COVID-19, but instead proposes expanding Medicaid only for testing of COVID-19.
The House accepted and passed a couple amendments to their legislation. The Senate meeting involved a lot of discussion, including about the limited amount of time permitted for amendments to the bill to be filed, and the Senate Appropriations Committee seemed farther from achieving consensus on their bill than did the House Appropriations Committee.
Once the Appropriations Committees pass the bills, the full House and Senate will consider the bills and come to a consensus on this first allocation of emergency federal funds. Both bills share a listing of the $3.5 billion that NC expects to receive from the federal CARES Act, suggesting that this budget will be only the first round of allocations that will happen.