Senator Young lukewarm on COVID-19 relief bill passed

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Indiana Senator Todd Young says he’s still dubious about providing state and local budget help in a third pandemic relief bill, but says it may happen.

The relief bill which passed late Monday night gives states an extra year to finish spending the money they got in the first relief bill. And the new bill includes 100-billion dollars for schools, universities and coronavirus testing. What’s not included is broad-based help for state and local governments who saw the pandemic recession demolish the revenue projections they were counting on.

The pandemic’s effects on state budgets have been particularly devastating in states which depend heavily on tourism. Young says he’d consider it “a dereliction of duty” to send money to states which were swimming in red ink or unfunded pension liabilities even before the pandemic. He argues that’s unfair to states like Indiana which tucked money away in a rainy day fund.

But Young says some state and local help could end up part of a “principled compromise” in a third relief bill. He notes Republicans are still trying to pass COVID liability protections for businesses.

Governor Eric Holcomb says the money in the second bill, and the flexibility for spending the first round, will “help tremendously” as Indiana prepares to write a new two-year budget.

It’s not clear what Indiana’s share of the funding will be.

Young declines to characterize the 600-dollar-a-person individual relief payments as too high or too low, calling it “just the right number to get the bill passed.” He says Congress should have approved a second round of relief months ago.

Along with the direct payments, the bill includes money to assist people with rent and utility payments, an expansion of food stamps, and money for food banks.

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