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Phil Dean, interim executive director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, speaks during a briefing on COVID-19 at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, KSL

State's unspent $200M is fully allocated, Utah budget office director says

By Graham Dudley, | Posted - Dec. 10, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — After reported earlier this month that Utah has $200 million in federal funds to spend by the end of the year, the interim director of the Governor's Office of Management and Budget spoke during a Thursday coronavirus news conference to provide updates on where that money will go.

Phil Dean said Thursday that about $200 million is left to spend, but all the money has been allocated for specific purposes. Utah received the funds via the federal coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress back in March.

"As you may know, the state received $935 million in discretionary CARES Act funding," Dean explained, referring to the relief bill by its colloquial name. "This entire $935 million has been fully allocated. Of this total, $290 million is for direct COVID response, $249 million was allocated to economic response to the pandemic, $248 million went to cities and counties, and $148 million went to education purposes."

Dean said the $200 million "unpaid balance includes allocations for which goods and services have already been provided in November, and payments are in process. It also includes goods and services that will be provided to the state in December."

He said some "big-ticket items" the remaining funds will be spent on include $80 million for COVID-19 testing, "including test purchases and hospital expenses related to testing." Another $64 million is for schools, Dean said, including broadband internet installations; $20 million for fiber installation in rural Utah to "facilitate broadband access"; and $10 million is for residential housing assistance.

Dean told earlier in December that some of the allocated funds might be reallocated from their original purpose to address areas of higher need, something his office was working on cementing before the end of the year. Unspent relief bill funds are slated to be returned to the federal government.

Congress is currently negotiating over a second coronavirus relief bill during the lame-duck session, with many businesses and governments saying that more help can't come too soon.

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