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Distributing state stimulus funds could take a month or more, lawmakers say

"When the state doesn't routinely do this type of funding, we didn't have the mechanisms in place," said Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster.

DENVER — State lawmakers passed a $37 million state stimulus package during a three-day special session that ended on Dec. 2, and it could still be a month or more before any of the money gets distributed.

Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed the bill into law on Dec. 7.

However, part of the criteria requires businesses to be under severe capacity restrictions as of Dec. 31. That date hasn't happened yet, which is just one reason the money hasn't been divvied up yet.

"When the state doesn't routinely do this type of funding, we didn't have the mechanisms in place," said Sen. Faith Winter, D-Westminster.

Winter, one of the bill's sponsors, explained the delay in getting money to struggling small businesses is part administrative.

The timeline in the bill gave the counties until Jan. 8 to apply to the state for part of the $37 million. Then, counties will receive money by Jan. 15. Following that, businesses have a few weeks to apply and receive money by Feb. 12.

"We did add a rolling deadline into the application to make sure that we had a full diversity of businesses that could apply, not just businesses that have the person looking at these programs and applying the first day," said Winter.

The state will divide the money among counties that apply, based on population, how long the county has been in severe restrictions and counties that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the restrictions.

"Right now, the state has restrictions on how much money we have," said Winter. "Until Congress acts, we have to do everything possible that we can. It's not enough money, it's not going to reach every business that needs it, and it's not at the level that's going to save every business, but it's what we could do."

The money a business could apply for depends on how much that business made in 2019.

For businesses with receipts of no more than $500,000, they could apply for up to $3,500.

Businesses with receipts between $500,000 and $1 million could apply for up to $5,000.

Businesses between $1 million and $2.5 million could apply for up to $7,000.

There is a restriction on businesses that have not followed the governor's executive orders and the public health orders.

RELATED: State legislature considers COVID-19 relief bills in special session

RELATED: Colorado barbershop sues Polis over COVID relief set aside for minority-owned businesses

However, if a county applies for "5 Star" certification and qualifies, and then a business applies and qualifies, that business would still be eligible. Even though that business would be working under looser restrictions, the stimulus bill allowed for counties to still qualify even if they apply for public health variances.

 

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