COVID-19 relief money to pay back Ohio’s unemployment loan


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a bill that allows the state to use federal taxpayer money to pay back a federal loan also funded by taxpayers.

DeWine signed House Bill 168, which allocates more than $2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money to several areas, including repaying a $1.5 billion loan the state used to shore up Ohio’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. That, according to Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, should help businesses avoid large increases in unemployment payroll taxes.

“When COVID-19 came to our state, unemployment hit a record high, which in turn drained our unemployment trust fund,” Husted said. “Governor DeWine’s signature on this bill removes the heavy burden on businesses to repay that loan so they can spend their hard-earned dollars on other priorities, such as hiring more employees and making updates to their facilities.”

The law also sends more than $400 million to local governments to help offset costs and losses during the pandemic, while earmarking $250 million for water and sewer projects.

Also, $84 million will be invested in a pediatric behavioral health initiative administered by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

“House Bill 168 addresses some of the most fundamental responsibilities that we share as public servants – the health of our children and the economic strength of our state,” DeWine said Tuesday after signing the bill. “The actions that we took over the past year, including cutting state spending, freezing state hiring and leaving the Rainy Day Fund untouched allow us to direct these recovery funds into forward-thinking investments that position Ohio for a stronger post-COVID future.”

The bill spends all but about $500 million of the state’s first payment from the American Rescue Plan. DeWine said decisions have not been made on how the rest of the money will be used.

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