This special edition of Under the Dome provides a review of the issues and funding
being considered by state and federal government, including the West Virginia Legislature
and the U.S. Congress, related to COVID-19.
The Cares ActUpon learning that Congress was not initially inclined to include higher education priorities in the Coronavirus Aid,
Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, WVU answered a call to action in advocating to the West Virginia
Delegation the urgent need for student and institutional relief funding. As a result of the unified voice of the higher
education community to members of Congress, the recently enacted CARES Act included $14.25 billion for the Higher
Education Emergency Relief Fund for postsecondary education students and institutions, regulatory flexibility and
positive relief for student loan borrowers. Just days after the enactment of the CARES Act, President Gee wrote to
each member of the West Virginia Delegation seeking their assistance in encouraging the Department of Education to
release the Fund accounts in a timely and flexible manner.
Under the formula prescribed in the CARES Act, West Virginia University is slated to receive approximately $20 million,
with $10 million of that amount dedicated to emergency financial relief to students. On April 9, the WVU Government
Relations Team participated in a conference call with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who reported that
agency would begin immediately distributing to universities and colleges the $6.28 billion to college students. These
student grants will be for expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including
things like course materials and technology as well as food, housing, healthcare and childcare. On the same call, the
Secretary reported the second portion of the Fund for institutions would be released in the next two weeks. These
funds are targeted for institutions to cover impacts due to COVID-19, including changes to online instruction.
The Senate is out of session until April 20, and the House has recently announced that it will not return to Washington,
D.C., until at the earliest May 4. There are strong indications that Congress may consider the formulation of an
additional COVID-19 emergency bill to fill in the gaps of the CARES Act upon its return. In close coordination with our
affiliated higher education associations, the WVU Government Relations Team has already reached out to the West
Virginia Delegation to share pressing unmet higher education and national research enterprise priorities.
We will continue to work in close collaboration with our higher education colleagues and associations and stay in
contact with West Virginia Delegation offices as COVID-19 issues unfold.
Partnership with the GuardWVU is working with the West Virginia National Guard to identify how the State of West Virginia can directly benefit from federal CARES Act relief programs. The massive bill provides emergency funding to protect and support both businesses and individuals and includes direct funding, loans and tax relief to help fight the economic impacts of the coronavirus. The WVNG-WVU team is working to identify all potential funding opportunities in the bill, confirm that there is a West Virginia lead and applicants and provide assistance as needed.
The State Budget
On Monday, State Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said the State could see a budget deficit of $500 million by the end of the 2020 fiscal year. This amount, due to an estimated $200 million loss in economic activity and deferment of nearly $300 million in State income tax, will cause almost a 10% gap in the State’s $4.6 billion budget.The State believes it will receive approximately $1.25 billion from the federal CARES Act, but it is believed that the states will need increased flexibility from Congress in order to utilize those resources. Additionally, West Virginia could use its Rainy Day Funds to help support the negative losses occurred due to the pandemic, but that would require Legislative approval.
Addressing Personal Protective Equipment Shortfalls
On Monday, Governor Justice announced that the National Guard and WVU, along with other partners, are working together to address the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortfalls.To learn more visit: governor.wv.gov/News/press-releases/2020/Pages/Gov-Justice-WV-National-Guard,-WVU-researchers-collaborate-with-community-and-technical-colleges,-businesses-to-address-PP.aspx .
Pandemic ResponseOn March 26, Dr. Clay Marsh, Vice President and Executive Dean for WVU’s Health Sciences, was appointed Czar of West Virginia’s response to the coronavirus. Dr. Marsh has been assisting and advising Governor Justice, DHHR, the National Guard and other entities from the beginning of the outbreak.
Latest COVID-19 Information
On Wednesday, DHHR announced there have been 17,224 West Virginians tested for COVID-19, with 694 positive and 16,530 negative. There have been ten deaths associated with the coronavirus. There are cases in 48 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
To get the latest information on COVID-19 and the state’s response to the pandemic, check out the website coronavirus.wv.gov .To find the latest information on WVU’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.wvu.edu .
WVU at the State CapitolTravis Mollohan and Rocco Fucillo, both from WVU’s State Government Relations team, represent WVU at the State Capitol during the legislative session. They can answer questions about any issues addressed by the Legislature. You can contact them at: Travis Mollohan ( email@example.com) or Rocco Fucillo ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).
To learn more about the Legislature, including district maps, bill tracking, committee assignments and a summary of legislative activities, please visit wvlegislature.gov.To learn more about WVU’s legislative and government relation initiatives, please visit governmentrelations.wvu.edu .