After months of negotiating, Congress has passed a new COVID relief package, which will provide approximately $900 billion of additional pandemic aid. Although first glance may lead one to assume that the new bill has no direct impact on states and local governments, several key items were included in the most recent legislation:
Coronavirus Relief Fund – Deadline extension
As part of the CARES Act, a previous stimulus package released in March 2020 provided $150 billion designated for state, local, and tribal governments and US territories. The funding referred to as the Coronavirus Relief Fund had an original deadline for fun expenditures of December 30, 2020. However, the latest bill from Congress extends this deadline until December 31, 2021. This one-year deadline extension will largely benefit many governments struggling to expend all of their allocated funding before the original deadline.
Additional School Funding
One category of government funding that was included in the bill was education. In total, there is $82 billion designated for education, with the majority, $54.3 billion, set aside for K-12 schools. These schools will primarily receive additional funding through the existing Title I grant, which allocates funding to states and school districts based on the number of low-income children. Higher education will receive $22.7 billion, and the Bureau of Indian Education will receive $818 million. States will also receive an additional $10 billion to implement child care programs and $7 billion to provide broadband internet services.
Testing and Contact Tracing
The new relief package has designated $22.4 billion of funding specifically for the testing, contact tracing, and other related activities to mitigate and monitor COVID-19. This funding will be provided directly to states to administer programs to develop testing plans, test for infections, manufacture or procure testing equipment, and perform contact tracing. The relief package also provides $790 million to Indian Health Services for these activities and $2.5 billion designated to improve testing for high-risk and underserved populations.
The new relief package provides funding specifically for vaccinations, which means that a portion of the vaccine funding is designated to flow through states and local governments. There is $8.75 billion of funding allocated for CDC-wide activities and program support relating to vaccine distribution. $4.5 billion of the total amount is allotted for states and local governments. Within the allotment for states and local governments, $210 million has been designated for Indian Health Services. The relief package also specifies that $300 million of the vaccination funding has been set aside for high-risk and underserved populations.
State and local governments must stay up-to-date on the details of this latest relief package so that opportunities to obtain additional funding and provide additional services are not missed or delayed. It will be crucial to stay informed on future relief packages because they are likely to have even more financial impact on states and local governments. For more information regarding the impact of the latest COVID relief package on governments at both the state and local levels, contact a CRI advisor.