How much Utah spent in federal COVID-19 money in 2020 — and why the state auditor is concerned

Utah National Guard Pfc. Noah Filoso, left, keeps track of timers on COVID-19 rapid tests at the Fairpark in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

In the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Utah spent more than $6.7 billion in federal funds — a number that has State Auditor John Dougall concerned about future reliance on federal subsidies.

Dougall, a Republican, also blasted Congress’ spending in a statement issued along with a report detailing the findings of his office’s 2020 Federal Funds Compliance Audit.

“The magnitude of the ongoing federal subsidy is troubling, due to Congress’ complete disregard for any sense of fiscal responsibility, the increasing dependence of state and local governments on federal subsidies, and the heightened economic and inflationary reactions from the magnitude of irresponsible federal spending,” Dougall said in Tuesday’s statement.

He also noted that some of the coronavirus relief money may have gone to “nonessential” needs because of a lack of proper oversight on local spending.

Dougall said auditors predict the state of Utah “will continue to experience increased dependency on federal money over the next five to 10

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