LINCOLN – Today, at his daily coronavirus briefing, Governor Pete Ricketts unveiled how the State of Nebraska plans to use federal coronavirus funds to get Nebraska growing. Nebraska is receiving $1.25 billion through the CARES Act to aid coronavirus relief efforts. Of the relief funds, $166 million will go to Douglas County. The remainder will be allocated by the State of Nebraska. This afternoon, the Governor outlined the main priorities for these funds. They include 1) stabilizing businesses and livestock producers; 2) supporting community institutions to meet critical needs such as food security, shelter, and mental health care; reimbursing state and local governments for coronavirus-related expenses; and 3) shoring up the State’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and potential General Fund budget flexibility.
Including the $1.25 billion provided through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, Nebraska has received over $10 billion in federal coronavirus assistance. These funds have gone toward public health initiatives, the provision of health care, small-business payroll protection, extra unemployment benefits, and education—among other uses. These funds also include the $1.6 billion Nebraskans have received in economic impact payments. These are the direct payments of up to $1,200 per individual tax filer and $500 per dependent.
Gov. Ricketts: Federal Coronavirus Assistance
· Roughly $10.8 billion has come to Nebraska from federal coronavirus relief programs (through May 19th) and economic impact payments (through May 22nd).
· To put that in perspective, our state GDP is roughly $114 to $120 billion. This federal relief has been significant to help our recovery from the pandemic.
· The biggest funding source has been the Paycheck Protection Program ($6.4 billion). Nebraska ranked among the top states, per capita, in accessing these funds. Our community banks did an excellent job of helping our small businesses get approved for this program, so that they can keep people employed.
· Nebraska has received three years’ worth of unemployment claims in the past two months. While State resources have covered regular benefits, federal funds have provided extra pandemic assistance. Federal assistance has also allowed the Department of Labor to increase staffing.
· As part of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, every state government received at least $1.25 billion in federal assistance to help with the response to the pandemic.
o Of this amount, metro areas with a population of 500,000 or more received direct aid.
o In Nebraska, Douglas County qualified for direct assistance ($166 million).
o The remainder ($1.084 billion) is coming directly to the State.
· Nebraska is spending the federal relief funds in the following ways:
o Community CARES program to provide food security, housing, and behavioral health care: $85 million.
o Reimbursements to state and local government for coronavirus-related expenses: $180 million.
§ To be eligible to receive reimbursement for coronavirus expenses, counties must have their courthouses and other offices open to the public—on a non-appointment basis—by June 15, 2020.
§ With the exception of the City of Omaha, political entities in Douglas County will not be eligible for funds allocated directly by the State. This is due to the fact that Douglas County is receiving $166 million in direct federal aid.
o Agriculture & businesses: $392 million.
§ Small business stabilization: $230 million
§ Livestock producers stabilization: $100 million
§ Rural broadband remote access grant program: $40 million
§ Workforce retraining initiative: $16 million
§ Admin support to all business programs: $5 million
§ Gallup business stabilization and growth training: $1 million
o Unemployment Trust Fund and potential General Fund Budget Flexibility: $427 million.
Gov. Ricketts: Testing
· We continue to test for coronavirus so that we can isolate those who are infected, quarantine their close contacts, and slow the spread of the virus.
· In May, we’ve more than doubled the total number of tests performed in March and April combined.
· Over 150,000 people have signed up at TestNebraska.com. We encourage everyone to take part.
For a detailed breakdown of federal coronavirus funding in Nebraska, including the State’s plan to allocate the $1.084 billion at its discretion, click here.
Full video of today’s press briefing is available by clicking here.