SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota leaders continue to wait to spend roughly $900 million in remaining federal CARES Act Funding in the state. They’re hoping Congress will extend the current December 31st deadline so they can spread out the money. 

“We know we could be dealing with this virus next year, so we’re trying to make wise decisions and have asked the federal government to give us more time,” Governor Kristi Noem said.

South Dakota was given $1.25 billion as part of the Federal CARES act earlier this year; so far, the state has allotted $200 million of that for cities and counties and spent a little more than $100 million to support the state’s unemployment fund. That leaves about $900 million still left unspent.

“Nationwide, only about 25 percent of the dollars that went out to the states has been spent, so I think they’re all kind of in the same boat, they’re all trying to figure out what’s the best way to do this to get dollars on the target,” South Dakota Senator John Thune said. 

Senator Thune says he’s in favor of giving states more time to spend their CARES Act dollars.

“A lot of times when you spend quickly you don’t spend well,” Senator Thune said. “We want to make sure that they’re able to in a thoughtful way, figure out how best to get dollars out there and where they’ll make the most difference. So extending that deadline I think will be part of whatever package we move in the next round of coronavirus relief.”

While many agree on extending that deadline, it’s still up in the air whether congress will be able to pass that next coronavirus aid package.

“I think is likely, maybe not 100 percent, but a 60 to 70 percent chance we’ll get something passed and I’ll tell you if we do get something passed, it will have an extension,” South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson said. “Congress needs to get our act together so we can give them more guidance in a timely fashion.”

In the meantime, some state lawmakers have asked for a special session to come up with a plan if they do need to spend that $900 million by the end of the year.

“I’m not certain what we’re doing: we’re making plan A and plan B and C and D. So if the federal government doesn’t change their guidance and if they don’t change the law, then we will certainly allocate those funds to where they are needed and where they should be,” Governor Noem said.
“There’s a potential for a special session. I want to make sure we’re doing the best thing with taxpayer dollars.”

Governor Noem says she would rather see the deadline extended so the full legislature can have more time to make decisions on the federal funding during the regular session starting in January.