Democrats decry slow spending of Indiana’s federal coronavirus aid

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s top budget adviser on Tuesday blamed some of that on confusion with federal rules, but Democrats on the State Budget Committee questioned why there wasn’t more urgency in spending the money on the immediate needs of people around the state.

Posted: Sep 15, 2020 5:17 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana officials are still holding back on spending more than half of the $2.4 billion state government received in federal coronavirus relief funding.

Democrats on the State Budget Committee questioned Tuesday why there wasn’t more urgency in spending the money on the immediate needs of people around the state, while Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s top budget adviser blamed some of that on confusion over federal rules.

State Office of Management and Budget Director Cristopher Johnston presented a report to committee members showing that only $225 million, or less than 10%, of that money had been spent by the end of August.

The report showed nearly $1.1 billion in total had been spent or committed toward programs or expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down much of Indiana’s economy through the spring and has killed nearly 3,500 people.

Democratic Rep. Greg Porter of Indianapolis said he was concerned about slow distribution of the money approved by Congress in March for several of those state programs.

Among those he pointed out were only $17 million of $300 million dedicated to local governments being distributed so far, along with $960,000 of $30 million for small business grants and $19 million of $40 million for rent payment assistance.

“This is September 15th, I just don’t see us spending the money, getting the money out the door,” said Porter, the top Democrat on the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee. “I am very concerned about these dollars getting out, period.”

Johnston said he believed the rental assistance program money would be spent soon as so far 9,000 applicants had received payments and that some 10,000 more applications were being reviewed.

He also said he expected the local government money would be fully claimed once city and county leaders had better instructions from federal officials on what are allowable payroll expenses related to coronavirus matters.

Congress approved $150 billion for states and local governments in March.

That money was targeted to cover coronavirus-related costs by the end of this year, not to offset declining revenue resulting from the recession.

Holcomb is among some governors pushing for greater flexibility in spending the money on the state’s existing budget even though Congress and the Trump administration have been deadlocked on a new coronavirus relief package.

Holcomb has said his administration is being deliberate with spending decisions, while Johnston said Tuesday an unknown was whether states would gain any flexibility.

“Based on last four months, I’m not going to predict anything,” Johnston said.

Democratic Rep. Carey Hamilton of Indianapolis said the state needed to address serious concerns for residents, including some 300,000 rental households facing possible evictions, widespread small business closings and people struggling to buy food and pay utility bills.

“We’re just kind of waiting to hear, waiting to hear — it’s now the middle of September,” Hamilton said. “The more we can help Hoosiers from falling behind significantly, the quicker our economy will be able to rebound from this crisis.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112626

Reported Deaths: 3520
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20832759
Lake10292318
Elkhart6415109
St. Joseph6156102
Allen6029200
Hamilton4724109
Vanderburgh344530
Hendricks2673122
Monroe247436
Tippecanoe226913
Johnson2268123
Clark215056
Porter207845
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo178123
Madison159575
LaPorte137739
Floyd131461
Howard128563
Kosciusko120217
Warrick119936
Bartholomew115357
Marshall98924
Dubois95418
Boone95146
Hancock91143
Grant89133
Noble89132
Henry77024
Wayne74414
Jackson7409
Morgan70038
Shelby66529
Daviess64427
Dearborn63228
LaGrange63111
Clinton59212
Harrison56024
Putnam53710
Lawrence50528
Montgomery50521
Knox5019
Gibson4854
White48114
DeKalb45611
Decatur45439
Miami4263
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3862
Steuben3707
Scott35610
Sullivan33012
Jennings31212
Posey3060
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28524
Ripley2838
Carroll27013
Wabash2618
Washington2611
Starke2537
Whitley2526
Wells2482
Adams2453
Jefferson2443
Fulton2342
Huntington2223
Tipton21722
Spencer2153
Perry21413
Randolph2087
Jay1730
Newton17111
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1524
Pike1401
Vermillion1260
Fountain1182
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland700
Warren391
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145850

Reported Deaths: 4635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26242603
Cuyahoga17196644
Hamilton12850309
Montgomery7583152
Lucas7187358
Butler5727102
Summit5172249
Marion307247
Mahoning3002279
Warren294748
Stark2771168
Pickaway263444
Lorain227786
Delaware216620
Fairfield203850
Columbiana192180
Licking187562
Trumbull1852131
Clark175938
Wood173772
Clermont165520
Lake158649
Medina143939
Allen138869
Miami138049
Greene137632
Portage109466
Mercer107717
Tuscarawas91620
Erie91244
Wayne90866
Ross86123
Richland80819
Madison78712
Darke76839
Belmont71227
Geauga70547
Hancock67410
Ashtabula65148
Athens6292
Lawrence61618
Shelby5909
Auglaize5709
Putnam55823
Sandusky55520
Huron5337
Union5002
Scioto4746
Ottawa46630
Seneca45314
Preble42213
Muskingum3802
Holmes3777
Jefferson3284
Logan3013
Henry30012
Champaign2943
Perry2889
Defiance28710
Clinton28213
Brown2812
Knox28015
Morrow2522
Washington25123
Hardin25013
Fulton2371
Jackson2344
Coshocton23111
Crawford2276
Fayette2266
Ashland2244
Highland2203
Wyandot20212
Williams2013
Gallia18612
Meigs17210
Pike1670
Hocking1619
Guernsey1578
Carroll1517
Adams1234
Van Wert1143
Monroe10918
Paulding1050
Harrison622
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble270
Unassigned00
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