Appropriators develop plan for governor to spend rest of South Dakota’s COVID-19 aid

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Money

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Legislature will be asked Monday to endorse a plan to spread the remainder of the $1.25 billion of federal COVID-19 aid through grants to businesses, non-profits, healthcare providers and other organizations.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee spent more than 12 hours Wednesday assembling the $597 million of recommendations to Governor Kristi Noem.

The plan recognizes $185 million the governor has spent and $468 million she has committed and then urges her to follow the lawmakers’ plan to distribute the rest of the coronavirus relief funds that state government received from Congress.

“This document addresses the whole one-point-two-five billion dollars,” said Representative Chris Karr, a Sioux Falls Republican.

The federal aid needs to be spent or committed no later than December 30 unless Congress grants more time.

“I’m an optimist. I still believe we’re going to get an extension on this money,” said Senator John Wiik, a Big Stone City Republican.

Karr and Wiik co-chair the committee.

Lawmakers will consider the package when they meet in special session Monday. The governor announced the special session September 21. Four dozen House members put their names on an August letter to her requesting it.

The grant amounts recommended Wednesday are:

Small businesses $400 million.

Non-profits $40 million.

Start-up businesses $10 million.

Community-based health care and personal-services providers $115 million.

Acute care providers $15 million.

Workforce development and private nonaccredited education $2 million.

Destination marketing organizations $5 million.

Housing assistance $10 million.

The appropriators’ plan spends about $97 million more than the $500 million the governor had previously proposed in small-business and community-based healthcare grants.

Five joint legislative committees had met in recent weeks to receive ideas for the aid. “I think those were so vital, to hear from the public,” Representative Taffy Howard, a Rapid City Republican, said.

The committee started work at 8 a.m. CT Wednesday. The final roll-call vote began at 9:18 p.m. CT. The tally was 16-2.

Senator Reynold Nesiba, a Sioux Falls Democrat, voted against it. Nesiba said the process and the document were flawed.The other no came from Democratic Representative Michael Saba of Hartford.

“I am proud of the work we’ve done. Is it perfect? No,” Karr said.

The recommendations that will be introduced Monday can be read here.

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