A House bill to provide state aid for evacuees from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is being held back by its sponsors. The move is being made because it likely wouldn’t have made it out of the appropriations committee.
“There was a conversation to hold the bill back in committee, but that leadership has agreed to find dollars and put those dollars within our budget to help with housing, help the board of education districts with those dollars to help those students, and also dollars to help those agencies that are providing social services to these families,” said Juan Candelaria, a representative from New Haven who introduced the disaster relief measure.
Candelaria said that $700,000 may be available to the Department of Education, $400,000 to the Department of Housing, and $200,000 to nonprofit agencies. Even though that’s less than half of the $2.5 million called for in the bill, Candelaria said this is the right way forward.
“What’s more important -- the bill, or actually getting the money to help these families?” Candelaria said. “The fiscal crisis that this state is facing -- we have a deficit that we need to cover and to find additional dollars to do this, I think that moves a long way.”
State aid is important because federal funding has been limited mostly to the area of impact. There’s some money coming for school districts that took in evacuee students, but it’s unclear if it would come before the school year ends. And that could create a budget gap. Also, there hasn’t been an infusion of federal dollars into housing. So that’s putting stress on those stepping forward—nonprofits.