COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers agreed Wednesday on how to spend the remaining $693 million in federal money meant to help pay for COVID-19 expenses.
Most of the money — $420 million — will go to replenish the state’s unemployment fund, keeping businesses from having to pay over years to repay the money spent on jobless benefits after the pandemic caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose their jobs.
The state already sent $500 million to the unemployment fund.
A committee of House members and senators agreed Tuesday to a compromise on how to spend the money after minor differences and the House and Senate passed the proposal without additional changes and little discussion Wednesday.
The bill sends $115 million to education, local government and state agencies, which have to get permission of a private grant company that runs South Carolina’s federal aid program to get any of those funds.
The proposal spends $93 million on additional COVID-19 testing, $25 million in grants for approved nonprofit organizations and $40 million for relief money for approved minority and small businesses.
With a few small differences, the proposal aligns with how Gov. Henry McMaster wanted to spend the money. The bill now goes to his desk.
The federal government sent $1.8 billion to South Carolina. Lawmakers passed the first bill spending part of the money in June. They spent $50 million on rural broadband internet, $210 million for an additional week of school to get children reacclimated after the pandemic ended the last school year early and $270 million for state and local government aid.