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Gov Noem's Press Conference Focused On Federal Relief Money

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SDPB
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In The Moment … June 22, 2020 Show 843 Hour 1

Governor Kristi Noem took the podium in Sioux Falls today for a press conference that focused on federal relief money and how it stands to impact counties and cities in South Dakota. SDPB's Lee Strubinger joins us for a recap.

How much of the 1.25 billion in CARES funding will the state’s cities and counties be receiving?

What was announced this morning is that 200 million dollars will get split up between each city and county across the state. Each governmental entity’s specific allotment of money will be based on the most recent census data.

Since Governor Noem was in Sioux Falls, she announced that the city will be receiving 41.5 million… Minnehaha County will get 13 million, and Lincoln county 4 million.

That amounts to a total of 58.5 million dollars in reimbursements for costs incurred while responding to COVID 19… That’s about 30 percent of the total 200 million dollar pool.

Specific amounts that each city and county receives can be found on the Bureau of Finance and Management website.

Officials say those reimbursements will follow guidance from the department of Treasury… that each reimbursement will be reviewed.

What kind of expenses are officials talking about seeking reimbursement for?

One reimbursable cost mentioned is law enforcement salaries and personel costs. From March 1 to December 30, local police and sheriff’s departments will be available to seek relief on public health and emergency management costs.

What kind of costs have law enforcement incurred?

Minnehaha Co. Sheriff Mike Millstad says law enforcement has been used day in and day out to try and address the Covid crisis. He says law enforcement have been put on extra duties over the last several months.

Specifically, he says when settting up housing for people -- many had been exposed or tested positive for COVID.

Milstead says they’ve had to rely on police officers who’ve been COVID exposed… didn’t want to go home because they were living with their folks, or had wife and kids and didn’t want them to contract the virus.

Millstead says his office has also had to purchase equipment for additional cleaning in the jails—including personal protective equipment to aid in that.

He says they’ve tracked those purchases so they’re able to turn around and say “here’s the cost that we incurred.”

He says they’ll use this program to reimburse those costs. 

What more can we expect from the 1.25 billion in federal money? Right now she’s only announcing 200 million…

I suspect there will be more to come from these dollars. Noem says the Local Government COVID Recovery Fund is the first step. She’ll be in Rapid City tomorrow, where she says she’ll announce some more specifics.

On Wednesday, she’ll be in Huron and Aberdeen – all areas hard hit by COVID.

Did Governor Noem say anything about using that 1.25 billion for revenue loss? Has the state been given the greenlight on using that?

There’s still no leniency from the feds on using dollars for revenue loss.

Noem says that’s still something they’re looking for. Noem anticipates possible legislative packages that could be moving through Congress that would give the state that flexibility.

According to the revenue data we currently have, South Dakota is sitting pretty good financially, in terms of revenue. Year to date, the state is down about $5.6 million. But that could be a mixed bag. Noem says the state will feel the impact of the pandemic for months, possibly years to come.

NOT SURPRISINGLY:

Apparel and accessory store sales are down 41 percent.

Hotels and other lodging are down 37 percent.

Restaurants and bars are down 22 percent.

HOWEVER, building materials and hardware sales are up 21 percent.

Grocery stores up 17 percent.

Business services up 12 percent.

The governor cautions this may not be a full picture of what’s to come. It’s also worth noting just how much money has been pumped into the state by the federal government.

You have each person receiving 1200 dollars—500 for children.

The Paycheck Protection Program.

Unemployment – feds paid extra on top of state unemployment.

Small business administration 

Coronavirus food assistance program – farmers.

Billions into the state, which likely eased any hits to state revenue for the month of April, which Noem predicted could look disastrous.

Is there any update on the state budget and whether we will see a special session this year?

Nome says the financial help from the feds will help the state prepare for the future and not have to make draconian budget cuts in the future. 

She says she’s been talking with legislative leadership about a special session plan in August and if it’s needed… right now there’s just not enough information to tell whether one is warranted. I suspect we will find out more after this week’s joint legislative appropriations meeting on Wednesday.

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