Illinois state government to receive more than $7.5 billion in COVID-19 relief funds. Here’s how it could be spent. | Politics

There are restrictions, mainly that the funds cannot be used to make pension payments or to provide tax relief. But, it is more flexible than past packages.

The funds can be used for costs associated with responding to the public health emergency, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment and providing rental assistance and grants to small businesses.  

They can also be used to replace lost tax revenue and to make investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

Illinois Municipal League executive director Brad Cole said the package was “critical” for local governments, which have seen dips in sales tax revenue and, in many cases, increased costs associated with the pandemic response.

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And, unlike the first relief bill signed last year, when states exerted a larger role in distributing funds for local governments, these funds — though still to be divvied out by the states — will go directly to municipalities without additional restrictions attached.  

“Local governments got tied up by the state governments across the nation in the federal CARES Act a year ago,” Cole said. “This is going to distribute the money directly and without additional restrictions. So it will make up for a lot that was lost in the first relief package.”

Some local governments are already thinking about what to do with the newfound cash. Decatur is expected to receive more than $35 million in relief funds, for instance.