With 24 working days left until the CARES Act spending deadline, the Kansas governor and legislative leaders reallocated $38.5 million in COVID-19 relief money Friday to go toward public health and businesses.
The money came from $15 million originally set aside for rental assistance plus $23.5 million set aside for child care amid remote or hybrid learning situations. The total, original allocated amounts for those portions aren’t expected to be met, especially with about a month left.
Instead, $18.5 million will be given to public health facilities and $20 million to business resiliency, the State Finance Council decided.
"It’s time now," said the Office of Recovery’s Julie Lorenz on the urgency of the deadline. "If we don’t make the decision today related to this business bucket, I don’t think we can get those funds out the door."
On the public health side, $5 million will head to local health departments, $4 million to safety net clinics, $7.5 million to hospital surge platforms and $2 million to nursing homes. An expectation is that part of this money given will play a role in vaccine distribution, should one be approved.
For businesses, $4 million more will be given to restaurants and bars, $5 million to movie theaters, $4 million to large venues, $2 million for manufacturers of personal protective equipment and $5 million for private colleges.
In the end, it would leave about $16 million total for the eviction program and child care portion.
All that was approved by the council without much debate, but with Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, throwing in one more thing: that all leftover funds, after all appropriations have been made, will be transferred to the employer’s unemployment fund.
"It won’t interfere with anything that has been approved," Denning said.
In other matters, the group also reviewed the governor’s recent executive order on a second mask mandate, though no substantial debate occurred.
The State Finance Council will likely meet again in December, before the end-of-the-year spending deadline, to decide further reallocations that may be needed as the situation could change if a vaccine becomes available.