Federal pandemic relief money has helped keep the state budget in the black.

By early September, the State of Iowa had used $2.8 billion in federal money to cover expenses related to the pandemic. About 40 percent of it was spent on unemployment benefits.

The official state budgeting year ended June 30, but there’s a two-month accrual period to settle accounts. That period was even more critical this year as due to the pandemic, Governor Reynolds gave Iowans until July to pay income taxes originally due in April.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, the state has $770 million in cash reserves and $305.5 million was left unspent from the state’s overall budget plan for the last fiscal year. By law, $21.5 million of the unspent funds must be deposited in a taxpayer relief fund and used, at some point, to reduce taxes.