Lee looks to tap TANF funds to mitigate economic impact of coronavirus

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference on Tennessee’s coronavirus response in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee wants to tap the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds and other reserves to pay for coronavirus relief programs. The Republican governor also announced Tuesday he will double the $100 million grant program for local governments he had outlined earlier in the year.

“We certainly never wanted this day to come and we didn’t know it would come this severely, but we’re prepared in this state in ways many other states are not,” Lee said.

The state’s reserves in TANF funds had grown to more than $700 million by the start of this year.

Average TANF benefits currently stand at $243 per family, according to The TennesseanThe state’s could start issuing up to $1,000 for a qualifying family of five.