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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said on Monday that she will press President Trump on getting flexibility over using additional stimulus money that was sent to the states for support during the coronavirus shutdown.
“They are not allowing us to use those dollars for revenue loss. They’re literally putting me in a position where I’m going to leave hundreds of millions of dollars on the table while I’m slashing education and health care because I can’t have the flexibility I need to really do what I need to here in South Dakota to take care of our people,” Noem told “America’s Newsroom."
Noem said that she will be asking the president and the treasury secretary for flexibility in how to use the stimulus package Congress voted on, referring to a group conference between the president and governors planned for later on Monday.
Trump on Friday signed the nearly $500 billion “Phase 3.5” emergency interim coronavirus relief package into law after Congress passed legislation this week replenishing the fund for small businesses and adding billions of dollars in aid to hospitals across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an Oval Office ceremony, the president touted the bill as being “great for small businesses” and “great for the workers,” adding that the bill will “extend relief to thousands of African-American and Hispanic American business owners."
The new interim emergency relief package, which provides $484 billion in additional funding, passed the House on Thursday and the Senate earlier this week.
The bill delivers a $310 billion infusion to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which helps businesses with fewer than 500 employees obtain loans that can cover eight weeks of their payroll, benefits and other expenses. Thirty billion of that is reserved for community-based lenders, small banks and credit unions, and $30 billion is for mid-sized banks and credit unions.
Noem said that South Dakota never closed down businesses because residents were given the opportunity to protect themselves from the coronavirus by practicing social distancing and wearing protective masks.
Noem said that Congress has spent plenty of money and South Dakota only needs “flexibility on what they’ve already voted on.”
“They can build accountability into this. I served Congress for eight years. It’s not hard to build guardrails up to make us account for the date of which we can prove that we’ve had revenue losses. Don’t allow us to use it to bail out pensions, don’t allow us to go back and fill previous years of overspending.
“They’re really, by not giving us this flexibility today, hurting some of us in these states that have been well-governed for years and make tough decisions and are conservative,” Noem concluded.