Analysis: More COVID Aid Went to Education Than Healthcare in Pa.

June 3, 2021, Harrisburg, Pa. – Commonwealth Foundation has completed an analysis of the distribution of federal relief funds in Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other findings, it shows that public education has been the biggest winner—even being allocated more than health care.

Pennsylvania has received over $34 billion in federal aid through the CARES, CAA, and ARP acts. The top recipient, public education, has been allotted 29% ($10.1 billion) of this aid while 24% ($8.2 billion) will go to health. Health funding includes pandemic relief sent to the Department of Health, Medicaid programs, assisted living and nursing homes, vaccine distribution, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. 

“How this massive influx of new federal taxpayer dollars was distributed shows the clout of special interests in the halls of government, from Washington to Harrisburg,” said Nathan Benefield, vice president & COO for Commonwealth Foundation. “Even during a global health crisis, more money was funneled into public schools—many of which remained closed—than to health care needs.”  


According to the Pennsylvania Healthcare Association, nursing homes in the commonwealth have received grants from the COVID-19 aid bills that total $944 million. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia School District alone has been allotted $1.8 billion

The wave of federal funding has more than replaced state tax revenue declines during the pandemic. In fact, according to the Independent Fiscal Office, the state will take in upwards of $40 billion in General Fund revenue collections this fiscal year, while it took in $34 billion in 2019. 

“It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been lucrative for both state bureaucracies and school districts, despite many school districts and Gov. Wolf asking for tax increases from working families,” continued Benefield.

About or $7.2 billion of the federal funding sent to Pennsylvania has not yet been designated for specific purposes—but will be part of upcoming state budget negotiations. 

“While public schools have been the largest beneficiary of federal funds, students and parents have been left out,” said Benefield. “Yet, Gov. Wolf’ continues to seek another $1.8 billion in tax hikes from working families and small business, largely to fund the education bureaucracy and teacher union leaders who funded his campaign.” 

“Instead, legislators should pass and Gov. Wolf should sign the Excellence in Education for All Act, to support the needs of families and students. To ensure flexibility in our health care system, lawmakers should make temporary regulatory waivers permanent. And the remaining federal funds be used to help local small businesses and workers recover to the maximum extent possible.” 

For details on where Pennsylvania directed federal relief funds, you can read the analysis here.  


Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres 850-619-2737 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.  


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