Current Report Articles
President's Perspective – SPARK Update

Kansas Seal (July 24, 2020) – This was a busy week for the Strengthen People and Revitalizing Kansas task force, the state entity charged with overseeing the expenditure of about $1 billion of CARES Act funds sent from the federal government to the State of Kansas.

It was reported to members of the SPARK Executive Committee that we had all 105 counties submit their resolutions – and we were able to process all $400 million allocated in Round 1. Those funds should be hitting accounts in their respective counties this week. Counties will have until Aug. 15 to submit reimbursement for their first expenditure report – which covers reimbursements from March 1-July 31. That same day, counties are required to submit their Direct Aid Plans for review and approval, which will detail how the county plans on investing the rest of their funds.

The State's Office of Recovery, which oversees the SPARK process, is continuing to develop resources to assist counties in investing funds and completing the necessary reporting requirements. That office has been hosting weekly – and sometimes twice weekly – webinars, publishing FAQ documents and other resources.

This week, the SPARK Steering Committee and Executive Committee approved an outline for expenditures in Round 2, which would disburse roughly another $300 million to entities across the state to assist with COVID related expenditures. Those funds are divided into four general areas—public health, economic development, education and connectivity. Expenditures will fall into a wide variety of categories, including:

  • Funding for additional contact tracing and testing capacity;
  • Behavioral health grants;
  • Support for local health departments;
  • Assistance to long term care facilities;
  • Grants for small businesses;
  • Funding for workforce support and retraining;
  • Broadband infrastructure investments;
  • Early childhood investments; and
  • Assistance to higher education, community colleges and technical colleges.

The next step is for the State Finance Council to consider the allocations proposed by the SPARK committees, which could happen early next week. After that, more specific allocation of Round 2 funding will be based on proposals received pursuant to a process overseen by the Office of Recovery. More information about the specifics of that process should be available soon. Stay tuned.
--Tom Bell