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States and cities are slow to use Democratic pandemic aid


When Congress considered a large COVID-19 bailout package earlier this year, hundreds of mayors across the United States took billions of dollars of “immediate action” to support their finances and revive their communities. I asked.

Now that they have received it, local officials are taking their time before actually spending the weather.

As of this summer, the majority of big cities and states were from US rescue programs backed by Democrats and President Joe Biden, according to the Associated Press review of the first financial report to be paid under the law. I wasn’t spending a penny. According to AP analysis, states spend only 2.5% of their original quota, while big cities spend 8.5%.

Many state and local governments have reported that they are still working on plans for a $ 350 billion share that can be spent on various programs.

Biden signed the law in March, but the Treasury did not publish money and spending guidelines until May. By that time, some legislatures had already completed budget work for next year, and the governor was not authorized to spend new money. Some states have waited a few more months to ask the federal government for their share.

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Cities could delay decisions while seeking suggestions from the general public. Also, some government officials were still looking for ways to spend their former federal pandemic aid, but were unaware of the urgent need for additional cash.

“There’s a lot of money out there. I think it’s a good sign that it’s not wasted,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. He chaired the US Mayors’ Conference when more than 400 mayors signed a letter urging Congress to pass Biden’s plans quickly.

The law promises spending 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 those dates must be returned to the federal government.

The Biden administration said it was not concerned about the initial pace of the initiative. Gene Sperling, White House’s American Rescue Program Coordinator, said that government assistance “addresses all critical needs” and “provides long-term firepower to ensure a lasting and equitable recovery.” It is intended for both.

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“The fact that spending can be distributed is a feature, not a bug in the program. It’s by design,” Sperling told AP.

The Treasury has set up an aggressive reporting schedule to plan the region. States, counties, and cities with an estimated population of more than 250,000 had to submit a report detailing previous month’s spending and future plans by 31 August.

More than half of the states and nearly two-thirds of about 90 big cities reported no initial spending. The government has reported future plans for about 40% of total funding. The AP did not collect reports from the counties due to the large number of counties.

To promote transparency, the Treasury also requested the government to post reports on “prominent public websites” such as homepages and popular coronavirus-enabled sites. But the AP found that many governments ignored the directive and instead pushed documents behind numerous navigation procedures. Idaho and Nebraska did not post the report online when they were contacted by the AP. Neither had some cities.

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Officials in Jersey City, NJ, requested the AP to submit a formal open record request to obtain the report, which should not have been necessary. City officials in Laredo, Texas and Sacramento, California also initially instructed APs to submit open record requests. Laredo later said he wasn’t spending anything on AP. Sacramento is relentless and ultimately spends nothing, but provides a short report stating that it could spend the entire $ 112 million allocation to replenish lost income and provide government services. bottom.

Within the state, the largest share of initial spending was directed at supporting unemployment trust funds that were depleted during the pandemic. Arizona reported that it had poured nearly $ 759 million into unemployment accounts, New Mexico had poured nearly $ 657 million, and Kentucky had poured nearly $ 506 million.

For large cities, the most common use of funds was to replenish reduced income and fund government services. San Francisco reported that it used its initial allocation of $ 312 million for that purpose.

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It was Pittsburgh who reported no initial spending, who joined other Pennsylvania mayors in February and urged Congress to pass “significant” aid to state and local governments.

“Parliament must act, and they must act immediately. Our community cannot wait for another day,” wrote the Mayor of Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh eventually had to wait for the financial guidelines to be released, community members to comment, and the city council to approve the spending plan. In the future, the city will use part of the federal storm to buy 78 electric cars, build a technology lab in a recreation center, and spend $ 500 a month on 100 low-income black women for two years. Start a paying pilot project and a guaranteed income program.

Federal funding also helps pay salaries for more than 600 city officials

“Even if the money wasn’t technically spent,” said Dan Gilman, chief of staff of Pittsburgh Mayor William Pedut, according to the Treasury’s reporting schedule. It was enough to postpone the dismissal. “

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Some officials are deliberately taking time.

Republican Governor of Missouri Mike Parson has chosen not to call a special session for adequate funding from the latest federal pandemic bailout law. So far, he has publicly outlined one proposal: $ 400 million in broadband.

The budget bureau chief of the person said the administration would offer more ideas to lawmakers convened at the January regular meeting. Until then, budget bureau director Dan Haug said the state should have enough money to cover the costs of fighting the virus from previous federal bailout legislation.

“I want to find something that will benefit Missouri in 10 to 20 years, not just next year and next year. That requires some thought and planning.”

Republican Rep. Doug Ritchie, who heads the House Committee on spending on federal stimulus, said he wasn’t convinced that Missouri would need to spend all of its money on the US bailout program.

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“As long as we spend these dollars, we are participating in ever-increasing federal debt or bad monetary policy,” Ritchie said.

Missouri was one of several states waiting to request the first allocation. 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 spokesman for the Tennessee Treasury Department, said the small city wanted to prepare for a 30-day clock so that the dollar could raise money when it arrived in the state. South Dakota officials cited similar reasons for the delay. Financial system director Colin Keeler said it would be difficult for a small town to take the necessary steps to apply.

“The state wasn’t in a hurry. The city wanted to get theirs, but we had to prepare,” he said.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.



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