Biden Calls for $350 Billion in State and Local Aid as Part of Massive Stimulus

President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del.

President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. AP Photo/Matt Slocum

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The president-elect released details on Thursday for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

President-elect Joe Biden is urging Congress to provide state, local and territorial governments with $350 billion in emergency aid, along with billions of dollars in assistance for schools and transit, as part of a sweeping coronavirus relief package that he unveiled on Thursday.

The $1.9 trillion proposal also outlines plans for putting $20 billion towards a national vaccination program. Additionally, it would provide $1,400 one-time payments to many Americans whose earnings are below a certain amount, while also extending unemployment insurance programs adopted in response to the pandemic and boosting them with a $400 per-week supplemental payment.

"We need to move quickly, we need to move fast," the president-elect said during a speech about his proposal on Thursday evening.

Biden also wants to see the federal minimum wage raised to $15 an hour from the current level of $7.25. Many cities and states have taken action in recent years to raise their minimum wages to that level.

On the education front, Biden is calling for $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen safely and $35 billion for a higher education relief fund directed at public institutions, including community colleges. Biden has set a goal of reopening the majority of the nation's kindergarten through 8th grade schools within his administration's first 100 days.

The scale of what he is proposing is substantial compared to earlier relief packages. The law known as the CARES Act, approved in March, totaled about $2 trillion. A more recent deal that President Trump signed into law at the end of December was around $900 billion.

Some Republicans were quick to knock Biden's proposals.

Rep. Kevin Brady, of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, called the plan an "economic blind buffalo that does nothing to save Main Street businesses, get people back to work, or strengthen our economy."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said on Twitter that Biden "knows the plan he outlined tonight can’t pass 'quickly'" and that pushing all of it together would delay the proposed $1,400 payments to individuals.

"Let’s get the extra money to people first," added Rubio, who is among the Republicans who have backed $2,000 payments to individuals. The last round of relief legislation included payments topping out at $600.

A description of Biden's new plan says the $350 billion in proposed emergency funding for states, localities and territories would help them keep public workers on the job, distribute the vaccine, scale up virus testing, reopen schools and maintain other services.

There's also $20 billion in the plan for public transit agencies that have seen ridership and fare revenue plummet due to the virus outbreak.

Biden said during his remarks that he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have been speaking with county officials, mayors and governors of both parties on a regular basis. "We're ready to work with them, help them get the relief they need," he said.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors on Thursday night welcomed the president-elect's proposal and said they were briefed on it earlier.

"Cities of all sizes must have direct, flexible assistance so that they can be a driver rather than a drag on America’s recovery," the group's president, Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer, said in a statement. "President-elect Biden has made clear he intends to solve this crisis, and mayors are grateful for his leadership," he added.

Including the funding for the vaccination push, Biden is proposing about $160 billion of spending centered around a slate of public health efforts to battle the virus, such as expanded testing and a public health jobs program. His overall plan also calls for $30 billion in rental and utility assistance for households.

There's a raft of other proposals as well, ranging from bolstered food assistance for struggling families, to support for child care programs, and billions in loan and grant offerings for small businesses.

Prior Stumbling Block

Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans about whether to provide state and local governments with additional direct aid was a major stumbling block in the negotiations that culminated in the coronavirus relief package Trump signed at the end of December.

Many Republicans have balked at the idea of doling out more federal cash to states and localities to help them deal with the costs and lost revenue brought on by the pandemic, arguing in some cases that it would amount to a "bailout" for states with poorly managed finances.

Democrats, on the other hand, have been supportive of providing the aid, which state and local government advocacy groups have pushed for and which some economists say will help with the nation's financial recovery from the virus. 

Biden's term will begin as the political dynamics in Congress have changed. After two Democrats won runoff elections in Georgia this month, Democrats gained a slim advantage in the U.S. Senate. The chamber will be divided 50-50 between the two parties, but Democrats can count on a tiebreaker vote from Harris.

Democrats already controlled the House.

The most recent federal relief legislation included significant aid that will help state and local finances—for example, $54 billion for K-12 schools, $22 billion for higher education, around $14 billion for struggling transit systems, and funding for vaccine-related initiatives.

Other assistance to households and businesses included in the law is expected to boost state and local tax revenues.

But the December package did not include another big pot of money like the Coronavirus Relief Fund that was part of the CARES Act, the relief measure passed in March. That fund provided $139 billion for states and larger-sized local governments.

States and localities used the CARES Act money to help pay for a wide range of public health and economic relief programs. Officials say the aid helped them cover costs that otherwise would have been difficult to afford. At the same time, however, they have complained that the rules for how the money could be used were too rigid and that smaller communities didn't receive direct allotments.

In many cases, state and local tax revenues have exceeded the dismal projections that forecasters first issued after the coronavirus hit. But conditions vary between states, and those that rely heavily on revenues like sales taxes or whose economic fortunes are yoked tightly to tourism, gas and oil production, or parts of the service sector with high unemployment tend to be struggling more.

"States are continuing to face fiscal stress," Shelby Kerns, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, said Thursday during an event held by the Volcker Alliance.

Meanwhile, there's still a great deal of uncertainty about how bad the financial fallout from the virus will be at the local government level.

This story was updated with additional information.

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

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Madison Water Utility replaces 8,000 lead service lines
Madison, WI, USA
Corpus Christi Deploys COVID Management System to Improve Data & Eliminate Time-Consuming Tasks
Corpus Christi, TX, USA
Safer Holiday Celebrations Connect Residents and Support Local Business in Franklin, TN
Franklin, TN, USA

NEXT STORY: More State and Local Job Losses in December

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.