VIDEO: Wyoming anticipating ~$936M under Biden's $1.9T COVID relief plan - Casper, WY Oil City News
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VIDEO: Wyoming anticipating ~$936M under Biden’s $1.9T COVID relief plan

Joint Appropriations Committee (Wyoming Legislature, Youtube)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming is anticipating receiving about $936 million under President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan which aims to provide economic relief across the country in response to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Mark Gordon’s Policy Director Renny MacKay told the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee (JAC) on Monday, Feb. 22 that Wyoming is tentatively expecting that about $736 million will be provided to the state with an additional $200 million to be distributed directly to local governments.

The United States House of Representatives could hold a floor vote on the stimulus package as soon as Friday, according to Forbes.

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As debate surrounding the stimulus package continues in Washington D.C. (including Democrats’s support for raising the minimum wage to $15/hr and another round of $1,400 stimulus checks to individuals), Wyoming’s allocation from the 2020 federal CARES Act is running dry.

Wyoming received $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act funds allocated in 2020 and as of Feb. 16, 2021, about $20.5 million of those dollars remain unallocated. CARES dollars had initially been required to be expended by Dec. 30, 2020, but the U.S. Congress took action at the end of the year to extend the deadline to Dec. 31, 2021.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Drew Perkins (Natrona County) said during the JAC’s meeting on Monday that “there is a lot of competition for these unspent COVID dollars.”

He said several pieces of proposed legislation have looked at allocating unspent CARES Act dollars but that there were likely “to be more requests than there are dollars.”

MacKay said the state may also be able to apply for additional funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency totalling between $50-$75 million.

Since that FEMA funding would likely be limited to existing COVID relief programs, MacKay said the governor’s office was encouraging the legislature to pass a “Federal Emergency COVID-19 Relief Funding” bill as drafted.

That legislation would authorize the expenditure of CARES funds for projects, procurements and grants which were approved to receive funding prior to Dec. 30, 2020.

MacKay said the governor’s office had the goal of working with the legislature to maximize the amount of both CARES Act and FEMA dollars the state could receive.

“We believe that this bill just wraps up the programs approved in 2020,” he told the JAC on Monday, adding that the idea was to maximize utilization of CARES Act and FEMA funds in a strategic way as the state awaits additional COVID relief funding under the proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Sen. Cheri Steinmetz (Goshen, Niobrara, Weston) asked whether Wyoming would need to keep public health orders or mask mandates in place in order to receive additional federal funds.

MacKay said that under the proposed stimulus package, the dollars would not be tied to whether the state has emergency public health orders in place such as a mask mandate.

The governor’s office explains how the CARES Act funding has been allocated and spent in Wyoming as follows:

  • Overall Funding Allocation:
    • Economic/Business Relief (Includes Agriculture) $471,400,000
    • Education Resilience $188,000,000
    • Broadband and Communications Infrastructure $56,600,000
    • Testing and Contact Tracing $136,000,000
    • Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation $79,000,000
    • Local Governments $162,000,000
    • Health Care System Fortification (Includes Mental
    • Health) $81,500,000
    • Eviction Prevention and Support $4,500,000
    • State Agencies’ COVID Response $61,000,000
    • Judicial and Legislative Branches $10,000,000
    • TOTAL $1,250,000,000
  • CARES Act Accounting As of February 16 2020:
    • Amount spent $1,039,195,262
    • Amount encumbered 131,732,051*
    • Amount soon to be encumbered:
      • Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund 39,600,000
      • Remote workforce readiness 320,000
      • OSLI programs 98,000
      • Mental health 2,200,000
      • Amount allocated but not yet spent or encumbered:
      • Testing and contact tracing 7,700,000
      • State employee safety 1,970,000
      • Business relief 3,950,000
      • Judicial branch 1,887,000
      • Tourism 497,000
      • Education (K-12) 326,000
    • Amount unallocated today 20,516,000
    • TOTAL CARES Act funds $1,250,000,000

The U.S. Congress’s extension of the initial Dec. 30, 2020 deadline to expend CARES Act dollars came three days prior to that deadline. The governor’s office said that state’s executive branch had already “moved through its plan to spend or encumber virtually all of the $1.25 billion CARES Act funds and little if any adjustments could be made to the spending plan.”

Guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department allows CARES funds to “pay invoices for projects approved subject to these allocations until March 31, 2021 on those projects and services completed in 2020,” the governor’s office explains in a document provided to the JAC. “We are now evaluating what funds may remain to be spent accounting for these ongoing payments.”

“The key information to monitor are the dollars spent and those encumbered.”

The Joint Appropriation Committee’s meeting on Monday can be viewed online:

NOTE: A previous version of this story said the state could see $936 billion under Biden’s proposed stimulus package. The estimated figure is $936 million. This story has been updated with the correct information. Oil City regrets this error.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.