The Journal Gazette
Saturday, April 11, 2020 1:00 am

State sees 1st hits to revenues from virus

Shutting of casinos behind initial drop; worse coming

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana coffers have started to see the first impact from the coronavirus shutdown – as March revenue showed a $70 million loss from projections.

That was largely due to the state's casinos being shutdown.

Indiana sales and income taxes come in arrears, meaning the April revenues will likely plummet.

“We know the descent will be steep and rapid,” said Cris Johnston, head of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget.

State officials addressed fiscal concerns at Gov. Eric Holcomb's daily coronavirus, as well as providing new data on COVID-19.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said initial state data shows 18.5% of those who have tested positive are black compared with 10% of the population. Fifty percent are white and 3% Hispanic. In almost 20% of the cases the race is unknown.

Black Hoosiers account for about 19% of deaths and whites for about 70%.

Box said she wasn't surprised to see the disparity given the prevalence of significant risk factors such as diabetes and heart disease in that population.

As of Friday the state had 6,907 cases and 300 deaths. Allen County now has 129 cases and stayed the same with nine deaths.

Holcomb also announced Friday the creation of a task force to plan, administer and account for federal relief funds the state of Indiana receives from the CARES Act.

Indiana's Economic Relief and Recovery Team will be chaired by Johnston and Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger.

Other members include Fort Wayne banker and IEDC board member Kristin Marcuccilli; Al Hubbard, a former economic advisor to President George W. Bush; former state Sen. Luke Kenley; former OMB Director Ryan Kitchell and former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman.

House Democratic Leader Rep. Phil GiaQuinta sent a letter to Holcomb after the announcement asking that legislative leaders of all four caucuses be allowed to name a person to the group.

“The creation of an economic advisory panel is wise given the vast economic consequences related to COVID-19 and the complex nature of the fiscal decisions that lie before us,” he said.

“I was, however, alarmed by the lack of bipartisan inclusion on the advisory panel, especially provided the significant tasks assigned to the committee. Now, more than ever, Hoosiers expect their government to work inclusively in order to achieve the best results for our state,” he added.

Johnston said the state will receive about $3 billion from the federal government – some of which has already started flowing for health expenditures like personal protective equipment.

About $500 million will go to K-12 and higher education from an education stabilization fund. The K-12 disbursements will be allotted according to a current formula used for Title I dollars. Title I provides supplemental funds to school districts with the highest student concentrations of poverty to meet school educational goals.

The largest component is $2.4 billion in a Coronavirus Relief Fund. It must be used for costs incurred from March through December that are “necessary expenditures” due to the public health emergency.

The money cannot be used for expenditures already in the current biennial budget. Funds may not replace revenues lost because of a public health emergency.

The task force will help plan how the money will be used to help state and local governments, businesses and individuals.


State to begin getting relief funds

U.S. Sen. Todd Young announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will begin the distribution of relief funds for Indiana hospitals and medical providers from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, which was recently passed by Congress and signed by President Trump.

Indiana will receive $668,604,614 in payments going to 4,495 medical providers and health systems that are enrolled in Medicare. 

“Our health care systems and medical professionals are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding being distributed today will help provide them with critical relief to treat Hoosier patients now and in the future. That's why I fought for the passage of the CARES Act and will continue working to ensure Indiana receives the resources needed to help save lives,” Young said in a statement. 

According to HHS, facilities and providers are allotted funding based on their share of 2019 Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements. These are payments, not loans, to health care providers, and will not need to be repaid.

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