Sen. Southerland talks federal stimulus money

State Senator Steve Southerland (R) of Morristown says senators recently discussed the impact of federal coronavirus relief funds on state and local government budgets in Tennessee. The state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group, which is charged with ensuring proper fiscal management of these funds, reported recently that Tennessee would receive approximately $3.8 billion in coronavirus relief funds through 2024.

Tennessee businesses will be eligible to receive more pandemic assistance through a bill that will exempt relief funds from state taxes. COVID-19 relief payments must be deducted from the tax year in which they were awarded.

Local governments will receive approximately $2.3 billion that can be spent in the same time frame. Southerland says the budget proposal takes “a strategic and methodical approach” to ensure the federal funds are used wisely to deliver critical services, while not growing the size of government.

Although the state awaits federal guidance regarding any specific strings that will be attached, federal officials have said the funds must be spent on COVID-19 response, economic relief and specific categories of infrastructure such as water, sewer and broadband.