The state’s task force in charge of COVID-19 relief money has set aside about $173 million of the $290 million remaining statewide CARES Act funding, upon approval by the State Finance Council.


On Wednesday, the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas Taskforce recommended that the money be used for various things, including:


• $20 million for child care, as a starting point.


• $30 million for the Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance program.


• $30 million for continuity of operations, to be clarified.


• $5 million for the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency fund.


• $10 million as a match to FEMA for the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.


• $10 million for personal protective equipment for adult homes.


• $2 million for Veterans Affairs.


• About $3 million for testing and equipment for corrections facilities.


• About $53 million for statewide testing.


Much of the conversation around funding had a tone of uncertainty, looking at establishing minimums and maximums for each part to be funded, with some money left as a reserve.


Some debate came around the type of testing to be funded.


One proposal for testing focused on testing businesses. Another proposal by Wichita State University would expand testing in general in that region, and a third lane focused on more statewide rapid testing on the public health side and with K-12 schools.


Some task force members were uneasy with the first approach, saying it could be too narrow by itself. Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, defended the strategy.


The approach "is in the private sector. All the testing we’ve done to date have been basically in the public sector for the most part," said Denning. "That’s why our denominator is all screwed up, when we're trying to measure for prevalence."


Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, recommended adopting all three types and create a unified statewide testing strategy.


Task force members in the end agreed, ensuring there was a statewide unified approach contingency in the language of its proposal.


All members agreed it was important that child care be funded. But some questioned some of the funding going to schools while they sit empty, such as money going to free and reduced lunches. It was later clarified that money was still going toward food being picked up by families.


Denning said he wanted child care funding to be allocated on a sliding scale, given that many parents have already made arrangements with school having started.


The rest of the money and how it is allocated will be determined after surveys of the task force members, who will meet again next week.