SANTA FE, N.M. – Lawmakers in New Mexico have approved a COVID-19 relief bill that will use nearly $330 million to help residents of the state who are struggling during the pandemic.
The legislation was passed Tuesday during a special one-day session called by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as the state experiences a spike in coronavirus cases, like most of the country.
The relief package, which was approved with bipartisan support, will allocate $194 million in direct unemployment assistance, providing a one-time $1,200 check to all types of unemployed workers.
Another $100 million will be allocated for a grant program for small businesses in the state, allowing business owners to apply for grants of up to $50,000.
About $15 million will go to provide emergency housing assistance, $5 million will go to emergency food banks services, and $5 million will be used for direct economic assistance to low-income residents, in the form of a one-time $750 disbursement per qualified household.
Legislators says the funding for these programs will be made available through a transfer of previously received federal funds. That includes about $319 million in unspent funds that were set to expire soon.
The bill will also appropriate $10 million from the state general fund to the department of health to provide for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and vaccine implementation support.
“When New Mexicans are in need, we act,” wrote the governor in a tweet after the statehouse passed the bill. “Grants for small businesses, unemployment assistance, emergency housing assistance – all on its way. I'm grateful to the Legislature for working together to forge ahead for the good of the people of our great state.”
The governor says she intends to sign the bill into law.