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Noem says she wants to use federal funds to preserve programs, help local governments
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Noem says she wants to use federal funds to preserve programs, help local governments

The $1.25 billion the state has received in federal funding from the CARES Act has still not been spent by Gov. Kristi Noem, who has said she wants more flexibility to use the funding for the state’s revenue shortfalls.

Noem asked local governments Thursday to continue to keep track of COVID-19 related expenses so they could get reimbursed with stimulus funding. She said her office is still waiting on more guidance from the Department of Treasury about how to allocate the money.

Noem said with the latest guidance her office has received, it’s “clear the state government should keep the entire allocation” but she wants to disperse some funds to cities and counties to help meet their COVID-19 needs.

Expenses that local governments should track include personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, testing supplies, equipment for delivering telemedicine or remote work, costs incurred to keep people in isolation that have tested positive, such as hotel rooms or other costs.

Costs related to emergency medical response as well as any equipment and costs in preparation for future COVID-19 response should also be tracked, Noem said, asking local governments to continue communicating with her office and the Bureau of Finance and Management about expenses.

Noem said she’s balancing preserving as much of the funds as possible for revenue replacement to avoid making cuts to education, health care and other basic services while also providing opportunities for reimbursement for state and local governments.

“This is why it’s important we track these costs accurately and that our local governments are doing that as well so we can take care of that accountability we need to have with (the Department of Treasury) and following their guidance,” Noem said.

Noem previously said her “hands are tied” on how she can spend the funding. She said again Thursday that she doesn’t want a situation where the “federal government is forcing us to grow government in order to access and utilize the funds that they have given to us.”

“This pandemic cannot be an excuse to grow bureaucracy or the scope of government,” she said. “The future of South Dakota is going to be in the hands of the people, not the government dictating to us what our programs should look like or how many there should be.”

When asked if any of the $1.25 billion would go towards schools, Noem noted the funding would be for public health response and said the schools had different emergency funding come through.

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