CARES Act

Some of Oklahoma's $1.2 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding is going toward grant programs to help struggling small businesses and families facing eviction.

A small business relief program is getting $100 million, with 20% allocated for businesses owned by people of color. Governor’s Minority Business Council Chair David Castillo said that will help a woman he knows who had to lay off almost all of her restaurant staff and nearly shut down as the pandemic cut into her business.

Wikipedia

Oklahoma cities and counties can apply for federal coronavirus relief funds through an online portal starting June 1.

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday that will be the method for them to be reimbursed for eligible COVID-19 expenses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which Oklahoma received $1.2 billion from.

Instagram / @TulsaCountyOK

Tulsa County has begun awarding nearly $114 million in federal funds it received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. 

Serge Melki

In lawmakers’ package of 12 budget bills is one that would require daily reports on Oklahoma’s spending of federal coronavirus relief funds.

House Appropriations and Budget Chair Kevin Wallace said Monday it appears the state has $800 million to spend once distributions are made to local governments from Oklahoma's roughly $1.2 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allocation, and lawmakers want input.

Tulsa Transit

Tulsa Transit’s share of federal coronavirus relief money is roughly $19.7 million.

General Manager Ted Rieck reported the allocation from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act to the transit board this week.

"This is a huge amount of money for us. It’s, like, 82% of our annual budget and three times our normal allocation," Rieck said.

Rieck's priority for the funding is offsetting an expected decrease in funding next fiscal year from the City of Tulsa as it deals with a 13% drop in general revenue.

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So far, the federal government has approved $660 billion in funding for small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. On Thursday, April 30th, Larry Weatherford, Oklahoma district public affairs specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration, which administers the program, spoke with KWGS about the program's successes and criticisms, and encouraged any Oklahoma small business owners who haven't yet applied for assistance to do so as soon as possible before funding runs out.

In a webinar hosted by the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Monday, U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said he fears that the amount of money paid out to Americans as federal unemployment benefits under new coronavirus legislation may be overly generous and bad economic policy.

"That's been the challenge of unemployment during this time period," Lankford said. "That we have a disincentive to get back to work." 

Chris Polansky

While Oklahoma prepares to reopen certain businesses following mandated closures meant to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, the head of the Oklahoma State Department of Education said on Thursday that students, parents and teachers shouldn't take that to mean schools will be reopening any time soon.

"It is not to pertain to the reopening of schools," State Superintendent of Instruction Joy Hofmeister said of Governor Kevin Stitt's announcement that parts of Oklahoma's economy will begin to reopen on April 24th. 

File photo-Wikimedia

Oklahoma’s congressional delegation is urging the Trump administration to let public hospitals access funding available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.