Senate panel approves recommendations for CARES Act money

Senate panel approves recommendations for CARES Act money

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Thursday morning, a panel of South Carolina senators approved recommendations on how to spend some the CARES Act money the state is receiving from the federal government because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They sent their committee report to Senate President Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee).

The recommendations came from cand the governor’s office. The governor designated the General Assembly to make the decision on how the money should be distributed. They have until December to figure this out. Lawmakers said the most important thing about these recommendations is the fact they are flexible.

"It's extraordinarily important these dollars be spent wisely,” Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) said. “It's extraordinarily important we redistribute these funds wisely as the facts change."

Some of the highlights in the recommendations include a $500 million investment in the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust fund, about $16 million for a state-managed stockpile of PPE and a about $300,000 to create a plan to map out places in the state that are in dire need of broadband access. There is also a recommendation to use $50 million for rural broadband infrastructure.

“If we could say this pandemic is a cloud, what we’re going to do for broadband in our rural areas and places that don’t have broadband is the silver lining,” Senator Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon) said.

Lawmakers said the pandemic has highlighted the digital divide, especially on the education side of things.

"We can't afford to lose a generation of kids," Sen. Davis said.

The committee recommended using about $50 million for summer recovery instruction and about $160 million for an additional five days of instruction at the beginning of the school year.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.