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South Dakota one of thirteen states not yet allocating American Rescue Plan funds

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:18 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March, it was designed for every state to help with the setbacks from the pandemic. South Dakota is one of only 13 states not yet using American Rescue Plan dollars for programs.

South Dakota’s share of the American Rescue Plan is just over $974 million. While other states make either a legislative or executive decision on allocating the funds, Republican State Senator Jean Hunhoff says in South Dakota, it’s a combination of both lawmakers and Governor Noem.

“There will be a dialogue between the governor and the legislature to provide input to each other as to what priorities are,” said Sen. Hunhoff.

Ideas to utilize the money include infrastructure, health services, and housing. One of the challenges is what Sen. Hunhoff describes is an ever-changing list of rules on how to spend the money.

“And then there’s a new FAQ, or frequently answered question that comes out and then we have to come back and figure out how that impacts that,” said Sen. Hunhoff.

Other states are finding ways to allocate their portion. Minnesota, receiving 2.8 billion is investing in areas including housing, education, a vaccine incentive program, their general fund and other programs. Iowa, receiving 1.4 billion, is focusing on housing and workforce. We asked how other states are moving ahead with their decisions in light of the changing regulations.

“Other states do what other states do,” said Sen. Hunhoff.

Jeff Arkin with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a watchdog organization for congress, is also hearing from decision-makers in other states grappling with changing regulations.

While he acknowledges the frustration, he says there’s a bigger picture, and that’s the effect of a $1.9 trillion dollar disbursement on our national economy.

“And that level of debt now is at it’s highest level since world war two and is expected to reach an all-time high by the end of the decade and into the future,” said Arkin.

He says there are solutions, such as congress developing a long-term fiscal plan, and following up on unpaid taxes could create hundreds of billions of dollars without raising taxes.

“Ensure that the U.S. economy remains in a strong position to be able to address our security needs, our social needs, and also to have flexibility to address unforeseen events in the future like a public health emergency caused by a pandemic,” said Arkin.

Sen. Hunhoff says her focus is on South Dakota and making wise financial decisions that are sustainable long term after the one-time funding is gone.

“We’ve got very good electorate in the state legislature, and a great governor and I think we’re going continue to partner and we’re gonna make sure that South Dakota utilizes those dollars in the best avenue and at the end of the day the taxpayer is gonna feel good about that,” said Sen. Hunhoff.

States must obligate dollars by Dec. of 2024, and spend the funds by Dec. of 2026. Sen. Hunhoff says Governor Noem has submitted the paperwork needed to keep the funding available.

The American Rescue Plan is also providing $20 billion to Native American tribes across the nation.

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