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American Rescue Plan Details for NJ Announced in Elizabeth

The PFANJ was on hand on March 12 as Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Bob Menendez, Senator Cory Booker, and many other political leaders from throughout the state, hold a press conference in Elizabeth to share the details of the "American Rescue Plan".

Significant funding and benefits for fire fighters and emergency medical personnel are included in the pan.The International Association of Fire Fighters worked diligently to ensure the bill provides the following:

• $200 million in supplemental funding for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program to retain fire fighters at risk of layoff and rehire laid off fire fighters.

• $100 million in supplemental funding for the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) grant program.

• $195.3 billion in funding to states and $130.2 billion to cities and counties to address a variety of needs, including budgetary shortfalls for fire departments and other government services and premium pay for essential workers:

- $60.1 billion to counties

- $45.57 billion for cities of 50,000 or more

- $19.53 billion for cities of less than 50,000

• Authorizes Medicare to reimburse ground ambulance providers and suppliers for Treatment in Place (TIP) without transport for the duration of the public health emergency when community EMS protocols dictate the patient not be transported to a medical facility.

• Provides $80 million to state and local governments and other entities for training to address suicide, burnout and behavioral health conditions, including substance abuse among public safety officers and healthcare professionals.

• Provides an additional $50 billion under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act for the Disaster Relief Fund to reimburse fire departments and other government entities for COVID-related activities and purchases at 100%.

• Establishes a COVID-19 presumption under federal workers’ compensation to ensure federal fire fighters who become ill from COVID-19 receive necessary benefits.

• Guarantees paid emergency leave for civilian federal employees, including federal fire fighters who must quarantine or are ill, or to care for family members, including children who participate in remote learning during COVID.

Affiliate leaders should be prepared to ensure members benefit from the newly available funds. Unlike previously allocated funding under the CARES Act, state and local funding will be limited to funding government services that were reduced due to revenue reductions resulting from the pandemic or to provide premium pay. The U.S. Treasury will release guidance on eligible uses, but affiliate leaders should identify any departmental budget cuts incurred or pending, and approach their mayors or governors about receiving a portion of these funds to address these cuts.