HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii could soon see billions more in federal relief in a compromise bill that is finally coming close to a deal, after months of disagreement in congress. And, the money could help stave off teacher furloughs.

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With CARES Act money and other federal relief running dry this month, a Hail Mary pass at the nation’s Capitol might come together this week.

“It’ll be somewhere between $750 billion and $900 billion nationwide, which will mean that Hawaii will see somewhere between $1 billion and $4 billion of additional relief,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

The relief will be in some critical areas that helped Hawaii’s families and small businesses tread water through a treacherous 2020.

“We want to extend the Payroll Protection Program, the small business program. We want to extend unemployment insurance,” Schatz said. “In the proposed compromise, there’s also a lot of money for vaccine distribution and rent relief — not just forbearance, like in the previous legislation, but actual cash for people to pay the rent — and money for lower education K-12 and higher education.”

A broader deal for state and local government funds may be carved out for later negotiation, but KHON2 asked: Would the education money in the compromise relief bill be able to offset Hawaii’s public school furloughs?

“The current draft of the bill allows the money for lower education to be used to pay teacher salaries,” Schatz said, “so it’ll certainly help in terms of the DOE’s fiscal situation, and should help them to avoid these worst-case scenarios that we’re really looking at as early as next month.”

It’s not yet known if another round of direct stimulus checks to families will make the final cut. The current draft does resolve a big small business worry: whether expenses offset by PPP grants will be allowed to be tax deductible.

“In the current draft that issue is resolved, and so we will have full deductibility,” Schatz said. “So that issue looks to be solved — again, as long as we pass the bill.”

Passing the bill is still the tough part. All summer and fall lawmakers in Washington have said they know Americans need more relief, yet no deal’s been sealed.

“We now have agreement between Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate side that we simply must pass a compromise bill,” Schatz said.

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