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Kentucky Budget Director: State Has Allocated About 45 Percent Of $1.6 Billion In Federal Aid

Josh James

Kentucky's state budget director says the commonwealth has committed less than half of the federal coronavirus relief dollars allotted to state government in the CARES Act. But the governor has explained that's due in part to uncertainty about future stimulus from Washington.

The state is expected to receive a total of about $2.4 billion in CARES Act funding, with the lion's share - roughly $1.6 billion - going to help the state with COVID-19-related costs. So far, the commonwealth has earmarked less than half of those dollars, according to Budget Director John Hicks.

"We've obligated to committed roughly 45 percent of the $1.6 billion," he told lawmakers on the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue. "The largest piece of which was $300 million to cities and counties."

In recent press briefings, Gov. Andy Beshear has explained the reasoning behind the measured approach - noting that policymakers in Washington have floated the idea of loosening restrictions on the original CARES Act money instead of passing another round of relief for state and local governments. That's put states in a position where they are reluctant to spend down the federal dollars, he said, for fear they may be using money destined to have fewer strings attached.

No agreement has been reached on further coronavirus relief for states and counties, a piece Beshear says is crucial to reviving the commonwealth's economy and avoiding the "biggest budget cuts in state history."

Other major expenditures in CARES funding in Kentucky have gone toward local health departments, medical supplies, contact tracing, and testing.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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