HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday proposed spending $145 million in a worker’s compensation fund to help the state’s businesses cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Democratic governor’s proposal requires a vote from the Republican-majority Legislature to appropriate the money, and there has been no deal to accomplish that.

“I am pleased to announce my administration will make funds available to help businesses whose operations and revenue were significantly affected by the pandemic,” Wolf said. “To this end, I’m initiating the transfer of $145 million from the workers compensation fund at the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to the general fund.”

Wolf said he wants the money to go out in the form of grants to businesses that have been most harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Business owners and employees have worked hard to protect their customers and their communities during this pandemic, and I thank all of those who have prioritized health and safety despite the hardship of the past several months,” Wolf said in a news release.

House Republican spokesman Jason Gottesman blamed Wolf’s policies for the pandemic’s effect on Pennsylvania businesses and urged him to lift those restrictions.

The money is in the Insurance Department’s Worker’s Compensation Security Fund. Wolf and lawmakers recently tapped into the fund for $185 million, to balance the delayed 2020-21 deficit-riddled budget that passed in November. The fund, financed by premiums on workers’ compensation insurance policies, ensures claims are paid if an insurer becomes insolvent.

“I urge the General Assembly to take action as soon as possible to get this money into the hands of the business owners and workers who need it,” Wolf said. “The money is available and ready to be distributed and our businesses can’t afford to wait.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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