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As Clock Ticks On COVID-19 Relief, States Fast-Track Aid Packages

The Colorado State Capitol
The Colorado State Capitol

States only have a few weeks left to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds, which is spurring lawmakers around the Mountain West to pass major aid deals now.

The federal CARES Act funding expires December 30. After that, any unspent funds go back to the federal coffers.

New Mexico passed a $330 million aid package last week, and Colorado hopes to do something similar during a special session. Meanwhile, many local jurisdictions hope the deadline gets extended.

Eryn Hurley is the associate legislative director for the National Association of Counties, and she said there have been a lot of delays in spending relief money at the county level due to "evolving guidance, both from Treasury’s policy team as well as the Office of Inspector General, around how counties can actually use those coronavirus relief fund dollars."

Beyond that, Hurley says counties will still need more aid beyond the CARES Act to fill an expected $202 billion hole in county funds across the nation.

Bipartisan organizations representing state and local governments have said that more aid will be needed beyond the CARES Act to offset major losses in revenue and maintain health care, unemployment and emergency services.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Madelyn Beck is Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. She's from Montana but has reported everywhere from North Dakota to Alaska to Washington, D.C. Her last few positions included covering energy resources in Wyoming and reporting on agriculture/rural life issues in Illinois.