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Nevada lawmakers approve use of 2020 federal relief package

February 9, 2021 GMT

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers on Monday unanimously approved spending plans for $633 million-worth of coronavirus relief funds passed in 2020 and sent to states by the federal government, funneling money to renters, schools and small businesses adversely affected by the pandemic.

The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee voted to approve $125 million for its emergency rental assistance program, under which funds can be used to pay for rent, utilities or other housing-related costs. The program directs funds directly to applicants’ landlords, not renters themselves.

Lawmakers also approved $477 million for K-12 schools, which scrambled to provide additional services and remote learning capability while seeing their budgets reduced by the state.

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The appropriations, which apply to the budget year ending in June 2021, were all ceremonial approvals of already-passed federal funding and will not draw from the general fund that state lawmakers oversee and use to finance state services and projects. Lawmakers traditionally use their four-month legislative session to budget for the upcoming two fiscal years, but had yet to address the federal funds passed late last year.

Lawmakers on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee also introduced a proposal to funnel $50 million in leftover federal relief to a state fund for small businesses that have been adversely affected by the pandemic. The proposal originated in Gov. Steve Sisolak’s draft budget in late January. The allocation roughly doubles the original size of the fund, which received nearly 14,000 applicants and has distributed grants to more than 4,300 small businesses.

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Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.