States and Cities Slowly Using Federal Pandemic Funds – Reading Eagle
By DAVID A. LIEB
When Congress envisioned a sweeping COVID-19 bailout earlier this year, hundreds of mayors across the United States took billions of dollars in “immediate action” to prop up their finances and revive their communities. I asked.
Now that they have received it, local elected officials are taking their time before actually passing the weather forecast.
As of this summer, the majority of major cities and states were on U.S. bailout programs backed by Democrats and President Joe Biden, according to the Associated Press review of the first financial report payable under the law. I wasn’t spending a dime. According to AP’s analysis, states spend only 2.5% of their initial quota, while large cities spend 8.5%.
Many state and local governments have indicated that they are still working on plans for a share of $ 350 billion that can be spent on various programs.
Biden signed the law in March, but the Treasury did not release guidelines on money and spending until May. By that time, some legislatures had already completed budget work for the next year, and the governor was not allowed to spend new money. Some states waited a few more months to claim their share from the federal government.
Cities could delay decisions while soliciting input from the general public. Additionally, some government officials were still looking for ways to spend their old federal pandemic aid, but were unaware of the urgent need for more money.
“There is a lot of money there. I think that’s a good sign it’s not wasted, ”said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. He chaired the United States Conference of Mayors when more than 400 mayors signed a letter urging Congress to quickly pass Biden’s plans.
The law promises to spend until the end of 2024 and gives the state to spend money until the end of 2026. Money that is not required or used by these dates must be returned to the government. federal government.
The Biden administration said it was not concerned with the initial pace of the initiative. Gene Sperling, coordinator of the US White House rescue program, said government aid “meets all critical needs” and “long-term firepower to ensure a sustainable and equitable recovery.” Is intended for both purposes.
“The fact that expenses can be apportioned is a feature, not a bug of the program. It’s by design, ”Sperling told AP.
The Treasury has implemented an aggressive reporting schedule to plan for the region. States, counties and cities with an estimated population of over 250,000 were required to submit a report detailing the previous month’s spending and future plans by August 31.
More than half of the states and almost two-thirds of about 90 major cities reported no upfront spending. The government has reported future plans for about 40% of total funding. The PA did not collect reports from counties due to the large number of counties.
To promote transparency, the Treasury has also asked the government to post reports on “prominent public websites” such as homepages and popular coronavirus-compatible sites. But the PA found that many governments ignored the directive and instead pushed documents behind many navigation procedures. Idaho and Nebraska did not publish the report online when contacted by the AP. Neither had a few cities.
Officials in Jersey City, New Jersey, have asked the PA to submit a formal open case request to get the report, which should not have been necessary. City officials in Laredo, Texas and Sacramento, Calif. Also initially asked PAs to submit open registration requests. Laredo later said he spent nothing on AP. Sacramento is relentless and ultimately spends nothing, but provides a brief report indicating that it could spend the entire $ 112 million allowance to replenish lost revenue and provide government services. low.
Within the state, most of the initial spending went to supporting unemployment trust funds that were depleted during the pandemic. Arizona said it paid nearly $ 759 million into unemployment accounts, New Mexico paid nearly $ 657 million, and Kentucky paid nearly $ 506 million.
For large cities, the most common use of funds was to replenish reduced revenues and to finance government services. San Francisco said it used its initial allocation of $ 312 million for this purpose.
It was Pittsburgh that did not report any initial spending, which joined other Pennsylvania mayors in February and urged Congress to give “significant” aid to state and local governments.
“Parliament must act, and it must act immediately. Our community cannot wait another day, ”wrote the mayor of Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh ultimately had to wait for the release of financial guidelines, community members to comment, and city council to approve the spending plan. Going forward, the city will use part of the federal storm to buy 78 electric cars, build a tech lab at a recreation center, and spend $ 500 a month on 100 low-income black women for two years. Launch a paid pilot project and a guaranteed income program.
Federal funding also helps pay the salaries of more than 600 municipal officials
Dan Gilman, chief of staff to Pittsburgh Mayor William Pedut, said in the Treasury reporting schedule, “even though the money was not technically spent,” “the receipt of the money postponed a layoff major. It was enough to do. “
Some officials deliberately take time.
Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson has chosen not to call a special session for adequate funding for the latest federal pandemic bailout law. So far, he has publicly presented a proposal: $ 400 million in broadband.
The head of the person’s budget office said the administration would offer more ideas to lawmakers summoned to the January regular meeting. Until then, the director of the budget office, Dan Haug, said the state should have enough money to cover the virus-fighting costs of previous federal bailout legislation.
“We’re trying to find something that will benefit Missouri 10 or 20 years from now, not just next year or next year,” Haug said. “It takes a bit of thought and planning. “
Republican Representative Doug Ritchie, who heads the House committee on federal stimulus spending, said he was not convinced Missouri would need to spend all of its money on the US bailout program.
“As long as we spend these dollars, we are participating in ever-growing federal debt or bad monetary policy,” Ritchie said.
Missouri was one of many states waiting to claim the first allowance. The other five Republican-led states (Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas) have been waiting so long that they don’t have to file a report by the Treasury’s August 31 deadline.
Laura Potter, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Treasury Department, said the small town wanted to prepare for a 30-day clock so the dollar could raise money when it arrived in the state. South Dakota officials cited similar reasons for the delay. Chief Financial Officer Colin Keeler said it would be difficult for a small town to take the necessary steps to apply.
“The state was in no rush at all,” he said. “The city wanted to get theirs, but we had to prepare. “
Source Link States and Cities Slowly Using Federal Funds Against Pandemic – Reading Eagle