Although COVID-19 cases are concentrated in the Twin Cities area, the economic damage affects all of Minnesota.

After state legislators worked out a compromise bill on spending priorities, Governor Tim Walz on Thursday announced he would distribute the full $841 million share of federal CARES Act funding to Greater Minnesota.

Minnesota received more than $2 billion from the federal government to help local governments, health professionals, and businesses fight COVID. That money went into an account called the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, so it could be quickly deployed to places it is needed most. 

However, rural legislators were concerned because distribution of the federal funds was not subject to legislative approval, and could be spent entirely at the discretion of Governor Walz, without transparency or input from the public. Many rural legislators were concerned the Twin Cities would get the vast majority of the funds, with Greater Minnesota receiving few if any of the federal dollars for COVID relief. 

Senator Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls stated, “These are dollars our local communities need to address the growing financial burden from the costs of fighting COVID, along with lost revenue due to COVID.  I’m very happy the funds are finally going to be fairly distributed to where they are needed.”

The compromise agreement distributed the local government funding fairly to Minnesota counties, cities, and towns based on a formula using their populations. The Senate passed the agreed-upon legislation with nearly unanimous support during the special session.