Sen. Cornyn, MJ Hegar discuss CARES Act funding in Waco


WACO, Texas – Senator John Cornyn visited Waco on Wednesday to see first-hand how the CARES Act is helping the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waco and McLennan County have received a combined $78.5 million in funding from the CARES Act. That money was allocated to local health care facilities, schooling and transportation.

Sen. Cornyn says he’s fighting for a second relief bill, but his Democratic opponent M.J. Hegar says we need more answers.

“It sounds like the house is going to move the bill very soon. And if they do, we will add to it some of the most popular consensus items like direct payments to individuals, the PPP extension and other elements,” said Texas Senator John Cornyn, during a press conference Wednesday.

Sen. Cornyn says he’s confident a second relief bill is likely.

“If, in fact, people are serious about coming up with a new package, we ought to be able to do that by next week sometime,” said Sen. Cornyn.

Sen. Cornyn toured the Family Health Center in Waco and thanked health workers for the work they are doing to combat COVID-19.

Other city officials like Waco ISD Chief of Staff Kyle DeBeer, Mayor Pro Term Andrea Barefield, McLennan County Judge Scott Felton, and Baylor University President Dr. Linda Livingstone spoke about how the CARES Act has helped the community.

“We are deeply grateful for the CARES Act funding and what it allowed us to do to help our students and their families through certainly some of the early days of this hardship,” said Dr. Livingstone.

Here’s a breakdown of where the CARES Act funding is going:

  • City of Waco: $7.7 million
    • Waco Police Department: $161,078
      • PPE, thermometers, and related supplies
  • McLennan County: $2,383,865
  • Waco ISD: $5.9 million
    • 1,725 Chromebooks
    • 1,100 mobile hotspots
    • Instructional materials for at-home learning
    • Equipment for curbside meal distribution
    • Social distancing signage
  • Public Transportation: $8 million
    • Waco Regional Airport: $18,091,301
      • Job retention, improved infrastructure, renovations
    • Waco & McLennan County Rural Transit Systems: $7,950,262
      • Supports annual ridership of more than 1.2 million
  • Waco Airport: $18.1 million
  • Local Health Care Facilities: $20.7 million
    • Heart of Texas Community Health Center, Inc.: $3,087,882
      • Outdoor clinics for testing and treatment, including 6,703 COVID tests
      • PPE, including 13,500 gowns, 3,500 surgical masks, 13,050 N95 masks, 130,050 face shields, 27,000 gloves
      • Enhanced IT infrastructure for telehealth capacity at 15 sites
      • Fulfillment of 10,000 prescriptions by mailing or contactless pharmacy services
      • 10,854 hours of paid COVID leave for vulnerable or exposed staff
  • Local Colleges & Universities: $15.7 million
    • Baylor University: $10,777,489
      • Provided 2,697 students with $5,394,000 in CARES Act Emergency Aid

However, some like Senator Cornyn’s Democratic opponent M.J. Hegar say, when it comes to the CARES Act, there’s no transparency.

“I want to know where that money is going. I’m concerned about the fact that 95 percent of minority-owned businesses that applied for PPP loans didn’t get them. I want to make sure that there’s no corruption or nepotism in where that money is going. I suspect there is,” said Hegar.

Sen. Cornyn says $20 billion from the CARES Act went into Texas alone, but when it comes to unemployment benefits, he’s worried a lot of people are getting paid more not to work.

“We wanted to replace wages. We didn’t want to make it better than wages. And so, that’s where some of the disagreement came down,” said Sen. Cornyn.

“Nobody would choose to do that. That is ‘You are not going back to work.’ It’s not because you’re living high on the hog on your unemployment benefits. It’s because you don’t want to get your family sick,” said Hegar.

Sen. Cornyn is facing off against Hegar in the November 3rd general election.

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