- Associated Press - Thursday, July 30, 2020

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas State Finance Council has allocated more than $254 million of federal coronavirus relief funds mostly toward efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and boost the state’s economy.

The group’s unanimous approval on Wednesday slated the federal funds for public health, education and economic development proposals as recommended by the executive committee of the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas task force. The council comprises the governor and eight top legislative leaders, and its approval is needed under Kansas law for the money to be distributed.

“I want to thank the State Finance Council for approving these funds that will provide aid to Kansans who need it the most, help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate our economic recovery,” Gov. Laura Kelly said Thursday in a news release. “Both rural and urban areas of our state will benefit from these dollars.”

More than $100.9 million is going toward public health. Economic development proposals will get $78.6 million, education will receive about $74.9 million and connectivity - ensuring people can connect to the internet, especially as they turn to telecommuting and distance learning - will get $60 million.

This the second major allocation of the more than $1.03 billion Kansas has received through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, the governor’s office said. The state previously allocated $400 million of it to counties.

An interim report by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General on the use of coronavirus relief fund payments showed that Kansas had spent less than 1% of the money it received. The report covered the period of March 1 through June 30.

In response to that report, the governor’s office told The Associated Press in a statement that it had already delivered $400 million to counties to get them the tools they need to protect the health and safety of their residents. That includes reimbursements for any coronavirus-related expenses, including personal protective equipment.

“Today’s press release announced that the State Finance Council approved the next round of funding, $254 million - for public health, education, economic development, and connectivity - the top priorities for supporting the recovery of the state,” the governor’s office said. “The $254 million will be delivered expeditiously, and we hope to have the final round of funding approved by the State Finance Council by September.”

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