BOISE, Idaho — Governor Little held a press conference Friday discussing the state budget and resources for businesses and the unemployed. He started the press conference by mentioning Idaho's first coronavirus deaths, which were announced Thursday.
"Our prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who passed," said Governor Little. "This is a sad reminder that coronavirus can be extremely harmful or deadly to many, and we all must take personal responsibility and do everything we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus to others."
He encouraged people to stay home as much as possible for the next three weeks. Gov. Little says the virus has not impacted just our personal lives and finances, but the states finances as well. During the conference, Gov. Little said he will sign an executive order moving $39.3 million from a backup fund. This is the maximum amount allowable by law and will be immediately available.
The Governor’s executive order makes money available for the quick purchase of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, ventilators, rapid test kits, lab supplies, hospital beds and other critical needs. Although the new federal funds are likely to cover the expenses, the Governor’s action ensures Idaho does not have to wait on critical supplies.
Some of the money will come from the CARES Act, which was sent to President Trump Friday morning after it passed the house. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. Idaho will receive at least $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief money.
Governor Little also said he would cut statewide spending by one percent. He is asking all state agencies, with the exception of public health districts, to cut one percent as well. According to the Governor, this will save $40 million.
The governor is also going to sign a proclamation for people who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. The proclamation will waive the one-week waiting period and some work requirements if employees are isolated or quarantined. it also provides people an extra 14 days to appeal claims decisions beyond the normal 14 days.
For employers, businesses who pay a quarterly unemployment tax will not be charged when employees are laid off due to COVID-19. Providers will be given extra 14 days to appeal claims decisions beyond the normal two weeks.
The unemployment provisions are in effect as of March 8, 2020. For the latest coronavirus coverage, both locally and nationally, click here.