February 18, 2022
Turns out $73 billion has a way of changing the way you look at things.
During a Feb. 17 hearing on federal COVID-19 relief funds received by the state, Senator Michelle Benson noticed a discrepancy in the slides presented by Minnesota Management and Budget. Rather than leaving out the last three digits to shorten the numbers, the last six digits have been removed to simplify the explanation of how money flowed into Minnesota as part of COVID-19 relief.
“The amount of money has gotten so large that we’re used to seeing in the top corner the notation that the numbers are in the thousands,” the Ham Lake Republican said. “On this slide, the ratings are in the millions. That’s how important these numbers have become.
The slide included a large number in particular, showing the total amount of federal money — both in direct grants to states and local governments and in grants to individuals — that Minnesota has received in less than two years: 72, $7 billion.
In addition to some smaller allocations from Congress, the money came primarily from three major federal laws: the CARES Act of March 2020; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Act of December 2020; and the American Rescue Plan Act of March 2021. The total value of these three acts was $5.3 trillion.
The state received $11.5 billion, including nearly $900 million for housing assistance; $720 million in child care assistance; and $1.7 billion in improvements to health and social services. Of that money, $3.86 billion was “flexible funds” and could be spent as the state wished as long as it tied to responding to the health, economic and social impacts of the pandemic.
Additionally, local governments received $3.3 billion, the healthcare system received $3.3 billion, and transportation systems — including airports and transit agencies — received $1.3 billion. billion dollars.
The biggest amount went not to the state but directly to residents in the form of additional unemployment benefits, stimulus checks and business grants and loans. This amount totaled $51 billion. All that money is the best explanation why the state’s economy and state tax collections, not only haven’t dropped as much as expected, but have actually increased during the pandemic.
Rather than facing a once projected deficit, the state has a record budget surplus of $7.75 billion, plus more than $1 billion in still unspent money from ARPA.
“Laddering. Stunning,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Julie Rosen, R—Fairmont. “It really hits you when you see it on paper. It cracks my knees.
“That’s more than our two-year budget, $52 billion,” said Senate Tax Committee Chair Carla Nelson, R-Rochester. “So there’s just an incredible, unprecedented, unimaginable amount of money that’s been sent to this state.”
Nelson said the surplus that flowed from that money means the 2022 Legislature can both “deal with those additional COVID-related expenses and provide permanent, ongoing tax relief.”
Ahna Minge, director of the state budget, told the finance committee that the state uses about a quarter of its direct funds for education-related programs. He spent money on health care, testing, vaccination programs, business aid and food programs.
“I don’t think any of this is particularly surprising given the areas the state has needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minge said.
The federal money was even used to reimburse the state for more than half of the $755 million that state lawmakers earmarked for public health in the spring of 2020 and business grants in December.
The state relies on estimates of the Federal funds information for states for how much each state’s residents received directly. Of the $51 billion total, $13.75 billion went to residents through three rounds of stimulus checks. The value of unemployment compensation beyond the $2.7 billion paid by the state trust fund was $9.8 billion. And state-owned enterprises received $16.7 billion in forgivable loans through two rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program.
Written by Peter Callaghan. Walker Orenstein contributed to this story. This story originally appeared on MinnPost on February 18, 2022.
MinnPost is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization whose mission is to provide high-quality journalism to people who care in Minnesota.
Eden Prairie Schools and the city received $24.5 million in COVID funds
Eden Prairie Schools and the City of Eden Prairie have received more than $24.5 million in CARES and the U.S. Rescue Package since March 2020, and the city expects even more.
Schools: $16 million
Eden Prairie Schools (EPS) has spent about $7.5 million of the roughly $16 million in COVID-19 stimulus funding it has received since March 2020, according to Jason Mutzenberger, executive director of business services for the district. .
The remaining funds must be spent by September 2024, he said.
Initially, the funds were used to purchase personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and equipment, and to increase the mechanical unit’s filtration and airflow, Mutzenberger said.
Other funds have been used to strengthen mental health supports for students, increase access to preschool programs and other youth enrichment programs, he said.
Some of the money was spent on reading supports for students, increased support for students affected by homelessness, more resources for ESL students, better access to technology for all students and staff, and additional math, reading and science resources for students struggling in those areas, Mutzenberger says.
At the same time, the pandemic has created an increased need for mental health support, social-emotional support, learning resources and post-remote learning recovery, he said.
“We have seen increased needs for child care for essential workers and food needs for families,” Mutzenberger said. “The school district has and continues to experience staffing and supply chain challenges.”
The use of COVID-19 funds provided under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) and the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF – part of the CARES Act) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA ) is mostly limited to pandemic-related expenses.
These funds cannot be used for normal district general fund operating expenses — 87% of which are employee salaries and benefits, Mutzenberger told the school board in March 2021.
“At this stage, we are not aware of any additional funds coming to us,” Mutzenberger told EPLN.
The district has experienced some loss of revenue due to the pandemic.
“I can say that overall we had minimal revenue loss in the general fund,” Mutzenberger said. “There was a small loss of registrations, a loss of entry tickets/sports revenue, and other small losses of revenue.”
But the biggest impact has been in food services and community service programs.
“Both of these programs are fee-based, which means we need participation to generate revenue,” he said. “As these two programs have been closed or minimized during the pandemic, they have unfortunately had a profound impact on staff and depleted their fund balances. We have rebuilt these programs this year and are again seeing positive growth.
Town of Eden Prairie: $8.5 million (additional $3.72 million expected)
In 2020, the city of Eden Prairie received $4.78 million through the CARES Act, which was primarily used for public safety costs, according to city communications officer Joyce Lorenz.
The city also used these funds to support the Eden Prairie Community Foundation ($27,799) and the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce ($59,850).
The CARES Act Fund was designed to provide funding to specifically address unforeseen financial needs and risks created by the COVID-19 public health emergency, not including loss of income.
In 2021, the city received $3,723,700 through ARPA and will receive an additional $3,723,700 in the spring of 2022.
Cities are allowed to use ARPA funds for revenue losses, in addition to pandemic-specific expenses.
The city, in 2021, suffered approximately $2 million in lost revenue in what it calls service fees, or fees, primarily with Department of Parks and Recreation programs and the Eden Prairie Community Center , due to program cancellations and closures of various facilities. The city is using ARPA money to cover the shortfall.
It has until 2025 to spend the remaining ARPA money and plans to continue filling the gaps from lost revenue, according to Lorenz.
Service fees for the next two years are expected to be lower than pre-pandemic amounts. Memberships at the community center continue to rebuild steadily, she said, as the city continues to weather the ups and downs of the pandemic, but it may be a few years before the city’s revenues do. fully recover.
Jim Bayer and Mark Weber contributed to this story.
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