The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, August 05, 2020 1:00 am

$1 billion ID'd for CARES spending

State still has about $1.4 billion left in pot

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb's administration Tuesday identified about $1 billion in expenses or planned spending for $2.4 billion in federal CARES Act funding.

That leaves $1.4 billion of the biggest pot still sitting in the bank.

Some of the reason is the state is having trouble buying bulk testing supplies in the open market.

And Cris Johnston, head of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget, said guidance for the funding has been slow-going from the federal government.

States around the nation have also pushed for Congress to lift the prohibition on using the money to replace lost state tax revenue. Right now, it can only go to direct pandemic expenses.

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, asked if more money will be put toward the state's $25 million rental assistance program. She said the eviction moratorium is ending, along with the $600 in extra weekly federal unemployment aid, and wondered how the state plans to help those in poverty.

Johnston said it is being evaluated day-by-day.

While about $1 billion was identified, about $73 million has actually been spent. The rest are estimates or have been committed to specific purposes.

That $1 billion includes about $300 million set aside for local government expenses. So far, $2.5 million has been paid. Local governments have to apply for reimbursement.

About $312 million is defined as public health expenses – largely related to buying personal protective equipment and testing supplies and contracts.

An additional $207 million in payroll for public health and public safety employees is identified though only $2 million has been paid. Most is an estimate.

And $96 million in economic support includes the rental assistance program, small business assistance help and training programs for Hoosier workers.

Some things other states have used their relief funds for – but Indiana hasn't – include supplemental state unemployment benefits, hazard pay for essential workers, paid sick leave and aid to restaurant and hospitality workers.

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