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Gov. Inslee announces $135M in economic relief for businesses, families

Gov. Inslee (TVW)

Gov. Inslee announced a ban on indoor gatherings and dining on Sunday and mentioned at the time that an economic relief package was in the works.

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Originally, Inslee said $50 million was set aside in relief for businesses, but on Friday the governor said the state was able to more than double that in a package of $135 million in economic support for businesses and families impacted by COVID-19.

The breakout is as follows:

$70 million in business support grants.
$30 million for the recovery loan program.
$20 million for rental assistance, including for landlords.
$15 million for energy bills for low-income households.

Inslee thanked the Legislature for assisting in the relief package and explained that within the $70 million grants is $50 million for a new round of Working Washington grants slated for the hardest-hit industries. The remaining funds will go to the historically disadvantaged businesses that applied for earlier grants.

“This is a significant relief effort,” Inslee said. “We can’t say it will help every business in the state of Washington but we can say we’re not done with this.”

You can find more information on business assistance here.

Lisa Brown, director of the Washington Department of Commerce, says funding will be available to businesses very soon.

“We know that the uncertainty and the hardship that has been caused by the pandemic and the public health measures have put thousands of business owners and their employees in challenging times,” Brown said.

Brown said they’re focusing a round of new business grants for those most hard hit, including music venues that have been closed since the pandemic began in the spring.

Brown recommended those interested should review the economic recovery dashboard the state is updating.

The governor focused in on restaurants that are forced to move to takeout protocols. They’ve undergone tremendous creative changes to provide nourishment and fun through takeout, Inslee said.

On Thursday, Inslee announced they would cap delivery fees on Uber Eats, Door Dash, Grubhub, and similar companies at 15%, and all fees at 18%.

Republican response:

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, released the following statement shortly after Inslee’s announcement:

“Today’s announcement shows the governor realizes small businesses and job providers can’t survive much longer under his restrictions. His package is a start, but it is not nearly enough. If the governor truly wants to provide adequate relief for Washingtonians, he must call a special session immediately. And if he won’t do it, the Democrat majority needs to step up and assert the Legislature’s power to appropriate state funds and create laws to help our state recover.

“The offerings of one man can’t compare to what the Legislature can do on behalf of Washingtonians. Many other states understand that and have called special sessions because their governors realize that they, alone, can’t provide the relief their people need.

“Governor Inslee’s recent announcement of his newest restrictions showed he is making decisions without having true knowledge about the effects on real people and our economy. Legislators are in touch with their constituents and bring that perspective with them. The governor needs to release his sole grip around the neck of Washington’s economy and let the people weigh in on where we go from here.”

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