Counties with fewer than half a million residents will receive a second round of CARES Act funding from the state, the latest in a series of distributions started in June to total $1.3 billion in federal assistance.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the second batch of cash Friday, which will send $255 million to 55 of the state’s 67 counties. That’s on top of $318.8 million sent in June to the selection of counties.
Counties above the 500,000 population threshold already received $2.5 billion from the United States Treasury.
To win funding from the second disbursement, counties must show how they spent the initial set of aid. The counties must also outline a spending plan for the additional funds.
Additional disbursements beyond this second round will be considered on a reimbursement basis, according to the Governor’s Office. That’s because the state is responsible for repaying the federal government for ineligible expenditures.
In June, the Division of Emergency Management started by giving qualifying counties 25% of their allocated funds. Additionally, those counties must use those funds on eligible expenditures for battling COVID-19, submit the division a quarterly report on how those dollars have and will be spent and return unused funds to the state.
The $1.3 billion set aside for smaller counties comes from the $5.9 billion in CARES Act funds that had initially gone unused since the state received those installments. The state awaits guidance and clarification from the federal government on how to spend the remaining dollars, which generally can only be used on expenses incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30 that were not accounted for in budgets adopted by March 27.
Plans for a clarifying relief bill might have to wait until after the November election, warned U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio this month. The Florida Republican blamed Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., for trying to pin the lack of federal support on President Donald Trump.
The $2.5 billion already dispersed to larger counties came directly from the U.S. Treasury. In total, the state and local governments have received about $8.3 billion through the CARES Act.