How Indiana spends the money from the last pandemic relief bill will depend in part on what Congress puts in the next one.
Indiana’s already earmarked about half the three-point-four-billion dollars it’s received in federal aid.
The state has spent about 700-million dollars on public health and safety, including nearly 200-million to beef up laboratory testing capacity. But the previous aid bills said money could only be spent to reimburse pandemic-related expenses. Budget director Cris Johnston says both the House and Senate versions of the latest bill would let states recoup some of the tax dollars they lost when their economies went into lockdown.
Johnston says the state is awaiting a final agreement to see what the formula would be for using the money.
Congress is also debating a requirement that states pass along a share of their assistance to local governments. Indiana would be ahead of the game on that provision — it’s sent 300-million dollars to the local level.
Johnston says one planned expenditure hasn’t worked out. The state set aside 100-million dollars for a shock-and-awe bulk purchase of the chemicals used for virus testing, in hopes of breaking the logjam to acquire those supplies. But despite having a big check ready to write, Johnston says the state hasn’t been able to close the deal.