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The Treasure State, its counties, cities and towns will be getting some assistance from the federal government to help cover the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montana’s reported share of the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act will be an estimated $1.37 billion. That is the same as South Dakota ($1.37 billion), but slightly more than North Dakota ($1.36 billion). Those estimates come from the House Oversight and Reform Committee and includes grants for capital projects.

However, the state has announced that it will be receiving even more – $2.7 billion.

The state legislature is also facing a deadline to craft a bill by March 25 on how to use the funding from the Act.

Lost revenues

The states and local governments have lost tax revenues during the pandemic, forcing them to adapt to less revenue at every level.

In Montana, the infusion of funds will need to be allocated since the legislature is in session, according to state officials.

The budget director of the Office of Budget and Program Planning has publicly stated that there is a need to encourage prioritization of long-term impacts to Montana. He also described that among the long term infrastructure needs for the state include water, sewer and broadband projects.

In addition, the budget director, Kurt Alme, said that the state will need to invest in the people who became unemployed because of the pandemic. One suggestion included training to help them re-enter the workforce.

The state will have to follow certain guidelines with the funding from the ARP Act, meaning that if the state doesn’t follow the rules, it may have to reimburse the federal government for the misused funds.

According to the guidelines established in the federal legislation, the money must be used in several areas, including for communities and families, workforce and jobs, small businesses, and education, among others.

Among the increases included in the act is additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding which will be directed at small businesses in the state. That also means there will be additional impact from the millions in grant funding as part of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund at the local level within the state.  

Act impacts Agriculture

According to the new Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, the recently approved legislation will help provide investments to struggling homeowners to pay their mortgages, property taxes and insurance. In addition, it will help with rental assistance and help fund broadband to schools and hospitals.

According to the National Farmers Union, the legislation will provide a lifeline for struggling Americans while also helping to improve the nation’s food system.

There will be approximately $12 billion in investment to food assistance programs, including extending through September the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit increase which was in the December COVID relief legislation.

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