Author Archive

Kery Murakami

Kery Murakami
Kery Murakami is a senior reporter covering Congress and federal agencies for Route Fifty. A longtime reporter, he has covered state, city and county governments, as well as transportation, at newspapers like the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Newsday. In Washington, D.C, he has covered federal policy areas including broadband, healthcare and higher education.
Finance

Congress and Watchdogs Scrutinize Covid Aid Lost to Fraud

Federal officials are still going after fraudsters who siphoned billions from emergency Covid-era programs, while also trying to prevent similar malfeasance in the future. State-managed unemployment programs are one area getting heavy attention.

Finance

How the Debt Ceiling Debate Puts State and Local Dollars at Risk

With a battle over federal spending brewing between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, counties and low-income housing advocates are warning of potentially damaging cuts.

Finance

Are Mayors Open to Federal Budget Cuts? It Depends Who You Ask

Route Fifty caught up with mayors from around the country to get their views on Republican threats to chop federal spending.

Finance

Critics Take Aim at State and Local ARPA Spending on Prisons and Jails

The American Civil Liberties Union is among those raising questions about federal Covid aid from the American Rescue Plan Act going to corrections projects.

Infrastructure

Mayors Try to Cope With Pickleball Craze

Demands for new facilities, along with noise complaints and paddle-toting attendees at city council meetings are just some of what they’re contending with as the sport's popularity skyrockets.

Public Safety

What the Mayors Discussed When They Met With Biden

Immigration and how cities are spending federal funding were among the topics that came up during the White House meeting.

Public Safety

'We Need a Plan': Mayors Want Biden to Take Action On Migrant Crisis

Democratic and Republican mayors are pushing for major reforms. New York City Mayor Eric Adams spoke to Route Fifty about his efforts to coordinate with other city leaders on the issue.

Finance

Mayors Fret Over Possibility of ARPA Clawbacks

Detroit’s mayor urged others to speed up putting American Rescue Plan Act funds to use and to take special care that spending adheres to federal rules. He's not the only one raising concerns.

Public Safety

New Law Will Cap Phone Call Prices in Prisons and Jails

It marks a major win for advocates who have for years argued incarcerated people are getting overcharged for calls. But it will also crimp a revenue source for states and localities.

Health & Human Services

Top State Democrats Outline Legislative Priorities

Where the party has majorities, they hope to focus on issues like housing, voting rights and criminal justice. In GOP-controlled states, they want to hold the line against Republican proposals on abortion, school vouchers and guns.

Infrastructure

Housing Programs Nationwide See Big Infusion of Earmark Cash

The largest increase for housing and community development in the latest federal spending bill came from earmarks, where lawmakers direct funding to specific projects in their states.

Health & Human Services

As Congress Sunsets a Covid-Era Medicaid Program, Millions Could Lose Coverage

During the early days of the pandemic, Congress banned states from stripping people of Medicaid coverage. That and an additional $90 billion a year in federal funding to the states is coming to an end.

Infrastructure

The New Federal Grants to Help Cities Ditch 'NIMBY'-backed Zoning

There’s $85 million available for communities that want to relax restrictions on the density and type of housing that can be built in certain neighborhoods, especially areas limited to single-family homes. Proponents say the changes could address both affordability and equity concerns.

Infrastructure

The ‘Silver Tsunami’ Expected to Hit the Infrastructure Sector

Roughly 17 million infrastructure workers will retire in the next 10 years, raising worries about who will erect and maintain America’s roadways and buildings.

Finance

What the $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill Includes for States and Localities

Congressional lawmakers fought back attempts by conservatives to delay the legislation until next year, approving billions for infrastructure, new regional technology hubs, homelessness programs and other state and local government priorities.

Finance

States and Localities Poised to Gain New Flexibility With ARPA Funds

The massive spending bill moving ahead in Congress was amended to allow for American Rescue Plan Act aid to go toward new uses, including disaster recovery and transportation infrastructure.

Infrastructure

Senators Press FCC on Map That Will Guide Billions in Broadband Infrastructure Funding

State and local officials and others have raised questions about the accuracy of the The Federal Communications Commission map and the process to make corrections to it.

Finance

Here's What Was Left Out of the $1.7 Trillion Federal Spending Bill

A number of provisions state and local governments had been seeking were excluded, including renewed expansions of tax credit programs that help support low-income housing and households with kids.

Management

Marijuana Banking Reform Left Out of Year-End Spending Deal 

The proposed changes would have cleared a path for state-regulated marijuana companies to access banking services, instead of doing business primarily in cash.

Finance

$500M for New Tech Hubs Program Included in Federal Spending Bill

A law to promote domestic semiconductor production approved earlier this year created the regional development program, but didn’t fund it. The proposed spending would enable its launch.