by Hunter Dawkins

Above all else, one thing is certain:  Mississippi Legislature recently passed legislation signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves, which will appropriate $300 million for small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus). Senate Bill 2772 sets aside $300 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to create two programs providing a direct payment to some businesses and a grant to others.

This ultimately leaves $950 million dollars in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.  The Gazebo Gazette asked the highest ranking official in the state government of where the allocated monies look to head toward.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves appeared to be concerned with other matters, as his announcements were only concerned with unemployment claims Monday, health care, and re-openings of specific small businesses plus casinos the rest of the week.

Efforts to extend the unemployment benefits provided to help Mississippi workers and their families hard-hit by COVID-19, according to the governor’s statement.

Working to support Mississippi’s dedicated workforce, Governor Reeves signed a new executive order updating instructions to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) to further relieve undue burdens caused by the pandemic. This new executive order replaces the Governor’s initial unemployment order, Executive Order No. 1462, which began the process of expediting payments to unemployed Mississippians.

“There is no real government replacement for a job. I know most Mississippians are ready and eager to work. Please do not let the window pass you by. If you are lucky enough to get an offer to earn a living, please do not reject it. I do not want you to wake up in August with no job to return to,” said Governor Reeves.

In this latest executive order, Governor Reeves is waiving the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits for all claims filed from March 8, 2020 to December 26, 2020. Under the initial Executive Order No. 1462, the waiting period was waived until June 27.

Further extending financial support of Mississippians out of work due to COVID-19, the Governor is increasing the $40 earning allowance to $200 from May 3, 2020 until June 27, 2020.

Supporting employers struggling under the weight of COVID-19, Governor Reeves has also waived any interest from April 1, 2020 to June 27, 2020 on all collection activities suspended under the Executive Order. The offset of future benefits due to overpayments will be reduced to 25% from March 29, 2020 until June 27, 2020.

Other than unemployment materials, the governor kept solemn about any additional measures.

Last Friday, the legislative action began; where the chambers amended Senate Bill 2772, commonly known as “the transfer” bill to transport $1.15 billion of the federal funds to the state contingency fund where the federal money will not be spent without state legislative action.

This amended bill was designed to place funds in for different needs.  $100 million of this money would be put into an account for state agencies emergencies.

Additionally, close to $1 billion in monies was allocated for educational purposes along with some for state governmental concerns.

The real question on the table is how the remaining funds will be divided?  Hospitals, Healthcare needs, Tourism, Technology?

The Gazebo Gazette will keep you up to date once it is determined from the government where this additional money will go.