The good news: Idaho just received $1.25 billion from the federal government to help pay for coronavirus-related costs.

The bad news: The state cannot spend the money because it still has not received guidance from Trump administration on how the money can be used.

Idaho has been expecting to receive $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds. The state received $625 million on April 17 and an additional $625 million Monday, Idaho Division of Financial Management administrator Alex Adams told the Statesman on Monday.

Adams said the state does not want to spend the money until it receives guidance from the federal government on how the money can be used due to concerns that “money used outside of the guidance could create a debt to the federal government,” meaning the state might have to pay back the money.

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“Gov. Little believes federal funding must be judiciously and prudently managed on behalf of all taxpayers,” Adams told the Statesman. “Until the U.S. Treasury issues guidance to states on allowable expenses, it would be premature to use the coronavirus relief funds,” Adams said.

“We are hopeful the guidance from the U.S. Treasury will be issued this week,” Adams said.

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Oversight committee: Ready to go

When Gov. Brad Little learned the state will receive federal funds to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, he quickly issued an executive order to create a committee to oversee how the state spends that money.

The Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee will make recommendations to ensure the federal funds are appropriately prioritized and efficiently distributed across state, local and tribal governments. It also will play an oversight role to ensure the federal funds are used appropriately.

The committee Little assembled on April 7 is ready to start monitoring how the money is used. The committee, which has added two more members, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, has met three times via telephone conference. But until it knows what is expected of the state, all it can do is wait.

“The governor’s oversight committee has been working diligently to inventory needs from state agencies and local governments in the meantime, and we are ready to work quickly once the guidance is released,” Adams said.

Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee members are:

  • Alex Adams, Administrator, Division of Financial Management (Chairman)
  • Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin
  • Sen. Steve Bair, Co-chairman, Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee
  • Rep. Rick Youngblood, Co-chairman, Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee
  • Rep. Melissa Wintrow, Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee
  • Josh Whitworth, Chief of Staff, Office of the State Controller
  • Jani Revier, Director, Idaho Department of Labor
  • Tom Kealey, Director, Idaho Department of Commerce
  • Shawn Keough, State Board of Education member
  • Lisa Hettinger, Deputy Director, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
  • Garden City Mayor John Evans, city government representative
  • Seth Grigg, Executive Director, Idaho Association of Counties, county government representative
  • Chantel Greene, Nez Perce Tribe, tribal government representative
  • Dennis Johnson, large business representative
  • Matt Newton, small/midsize business representative
  • Bobbi-Jo Meuleman, Intergovernmental Affairs Director, Office of the Governor

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©2020 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)

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