States Are Getting Close to Spending Down Federal Covid Aid

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, rear, watches as a forklift operator loads boxes of PPE for Edmond Public Schools at the Central Oklahoma PPE distribution warehouse on Aug. 18, 2020, in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, rear, watches as a forklift operator loads boxes of PPE for Edmond Public Schools at the Central Oklahoma PPE distribution warehouse on Aug. 18, 2020, in Oklahoma City. AP Photo/AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Two surveys of state and local officials find that states and local governments are using up the money, but that restrictions on how it can be spent have been problematic.

The vast majority of the money states received from a $150 billion pot of federal coronavirus aid is getting put to use, but officials responding to two recent surveys indicated that it would be helpful if the federal government provided more flexibility with how the funds can be spent and extended an end-of-year deadline for using the money.

A National Governors Association survey, based on responses from governor’s offices in 42 states and territories, found that on average 89% of the money states received from the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund has been allocated and about 62% of funds obligated.

Allocated here means that the state has divided up the funding among agencies, local governments and for programs like financial assistance to businesses, individuals and nonprofits. Obligated refers to goods or services purchased, but not necessarily received or paid for yet.

Nearly three quarters of respondents to the NGA poll said changing Treasury Department guidelines for the funds slowed how quickly the money could be allocated and used. And although all respondents said they intended to spend the money by a Dec. 30 deadline, 71% said they’d like to see that cutoff date extended into next year.

Survey findings from August detailed in a new Government Finance Officers Association report show that just over half of the state and local governments that responded said the Treasury guidance for how the money could be used was either “somewhat” or “very” unclear. 

And 62% of respondents said that the guidance and frequently asked questions documents Treasury issued were the “biggest challenge” in spending their relief funds. 

The guidance and frequently asked questions documents have been updated multiple times, including as recently as September, after the GFOA survey was conducted.

Three quarters of those responding to the survey said restrictions on the use of the funds—including the inability to use the money to replace lost revenue and the year-end deadline for using the money—were the biggest challenge in spending the federal aid.

Among the 22 states, 55 counties and 24 cities that responded to the GFOA survey, 82% anticipated spending all of their relief fund dollars before the December deadline, while 16% were uncertain about whether they would spend all the money by then.

It remained unclear on Wednesday whether Democrats and Republicans in Congress would be able to agree before Election Day on federal relief legislation that might provide more aid to state and local governments, or loosen restrictions imposed on the CARES Act funds. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged the White House against backing a large deal, as Senate Democrats blocked a skinnier package from passing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, remained in negotiations this week with the Trump administration.

Sixty percent of respondents to the GFOA survey said they weren’t confident that the federal response to the virus would be proportional to the needs states and localities will have for the rest of the pandemic, while 91% said their state or jurisdiction would benefit from more aid.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund was a key source of federal aid that the CARES Act provided to state and local governments. It included $139 billion for states and larger-sized cities and counties, as well $11 billion for Washington, D.C., territories and tribal governments.

Bill Lucia is a senior reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

NEXT STORY: Local and State Governments Spent $9 Billion on Small Business Aid

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.