With $300 million of the $1.25 billion granted to the state of Mississippi under the CARES Act already set aside for small businesses, Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann and the rest of the Mississippi Legislature are working towards appropriating the remaining $950 million.
On Monday, Hosemann told Dave Hughes of The JT Show that the legislature’s current priorities are healthcare, education, and further funding for small businesses.
“We specifically want to address the healthcare issues our hospitals, our cities, and our counties have gone through. We particularly want to help small businesses…and we particularly want to do our distance learning, so those are the priorities for us out of this bill to spend this money,” Hosemann said. “All of those are ongoing. I’ve got a checkbook, and I’m filling in the blanks. When I get to 1.25 billion [dollars], I’m going to quit.”
While the U.S. Department of Treasury’s guidelines do not allow any federal funding to be used for lost revenue, Hosemann thinks the money can completely alter Mississippi’s education system.
“We can’t fill in the budget with this [money], but we can do distance learning like we’ve never been able to do before in Mississippi,” Hosemann said. “I’ve got too many kids that can’t get on the internet.”
According to Hosemann, if the legislature pledges $75 million towards broadband expansion, the state’s co-operatives have offered to match that number.
“That was a great step forward by our Mississippi co-operatives,” Hosemann said. “We are very encouraged by that, so I think you will see those negotiations going on all week as to how would be the best way for the state to put up x dollars in having extensions to rural areas that do not have coverage.
On top of providing relief dollars to the sectors of healthcare, small businesses, and education, Hosemann wants to pay for a month’s worth of personal protection equipment (PPE) in preparation for a future pandemic.
“I’ve been very vocal about the fact that I don’t want to ever get us like this again where we’re bidding against everybody in the world,” Hosemann said. “What I want to do is appropriate…31 days of every PPE we need in Mississippi, and I want to put it in storage.”
To watch the full interview with Hosemann, check out the video below.