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The Louisiana House of Representatives on Thursday voted to set aside $300 million in federal pandemic relief aid for small businesses.
The federal CARES Act sent $1.8 billion to Louisiana state government. Up to 45 percent of that money could be shared with local governments.
While state officials don’t know how much of the $811 million local governments will be able to spend, they don’t expect local officials have incurred nearly that much in pandemic-related expenses, which mostly were borne by the state. However, there is a fair amount of flexibility in how the CARES funding can be used, and Congress may change the rules to allow local governments to use the money to plug budget holes and maintain services.
Under the plan the House approved Thursday, $300 million of the local portion would be put into a state treasury fund to distribute grants to businesses with 50 or fewer employees; $40 million would be reserved for businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans. For the first 21 days the money is available, only businesses that haven’t already received federal relief from another program would be eligible.
As requests come in for the $511 million for local governments and the $300 million in business grants, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget would be able to move money from one pot to the other as needed.
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