CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – U.S. Rep. Dina Titus told Nevada lawmakers on Monday that coronavirus relief funds recently passed by Congress would be a “linchpin” in the state’s efforts to boost the economy.

“Especially in Southern Nevada, our tourism-based economy has been devastated by the pandemic,” said Titus, a Las Vegas Democrat. “Even as we turn the corner in this battle against the virus, we sadly still ranked among the top states in our percentage of unemployed workers.”

The latest relief package allocated roughly $2.9 billion to Nevada, and lawmakers were waiting for guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department on how to divvy up the funds.

“I trust our governor and the Legislature to see where the needs are and put them there. We want the guidelines to come out sooner rather than later. But I think that they’re going down the right path of how to spend it,” she said, referencing efforts to fund summer school to make up for the loss of learning.

Titus said efforts to direct the money to regions most in need – rather than distribute it based on population alone – would benefit states like Nevada that reported record-high unemployment in the early months of the pandemic.

Although neighboring Utah has more people than Nevada, it will receive roughly 14% less relief funding because Congress used the unemployment rate to calculate distribution totals, she said.

Titus also applauded proposals in the Democratic-controlled Legislature to ban “ghost guns,” expand mail-in voting and make Nevada the first state to vote in presidential primary elections.

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Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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