Nearly $2 trillion were appropriated and allocated in early 2021 to the States by the Progressive-Democratic Party-controlled Congress and the Progressive-Democrat President. Those trillions were intended to help the States mitigate the outcomes from the Federal and State governments’ response to the Wuhan Virus situation then in full bore.
Most of that money remains unspent by the States, and much of what was spent went to programs wholly unrelated to digging out from under the governments’ responses.
What do an armored SWAT vehicle in Pittsburgh, “restorative justice” educational discipline in New York City, racial healing pop-ups in Minneapolis, and school vape detectors in Montgomery, Ala., have in common? They’re all funded by federal taxpayers through the hastily-passed American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)….
Just 12% of the money earmarked for elementary and secondary schools has been spent so far, according to federal statistics. And according to Treasury Department figures, as of the end of March 2022 only about $70 billion of the $350 billion allocated for state and local governments had been spent. Just over $100 billion of that money was contractually committed to be spent.
A Treasury spokesperson told Fox News Digital that 67% of the money available to state and local governments through March was budgeted—and likely more, due to smaller jurisdictions not reporting. The total funding available through that point was just under $225 billion. That means likely about half of the overall $350 billion had been budgeted for future use by late March.
It gets…better. Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Brian Riedl told Fox News Digital:
Washington allocated $350 billion to state and local governments to close budget deficits that did not even exist. These states are totally awash in more money than they know what to do with, so it’s no surprise they haven’t allocated yet—they’re going to be sitting on this money for years.
There’s a straightforward fix to this, even if perhaps politically difficult to do.
Let Congress appropriate the money for a particular purpose (illustrated by, but far from limited to, the ARPA purpose) with a string attached, but then hang onto the money. The string is this: if the States don’t become eligible to receive the money within a time-frame—say, within 12 months or by the end of the then-current Congressional session, whichever comes first—the money remains unallocated and is removed from the Federal appropriations and cannot be spent.
For a State to become eligible for the funds transfer, it must begin the project(s) that satisfy the purpose, have contracts let, “ground broken,” and concrete, measurable, and significant progress made on the projects for [six months]. At that point, the States would become eligible for six months-worth of the funds Congressionally allocated on unanimous agreement by the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, and the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders. At similar subsequent intervals, with similar demonstrable progress, the States would become eligible for subsequent backfills of the State’s expenditures until the allocation is consumed or the project(s) completed. If the project(s) are incomplete when the money runs out, the State becomes ineligible for any further Federal transfers for future retries or for related project(s).
Require the States to demonstrate need, rather than just throwing down piles of dollars with the instruction to “use these up.”
Regardless of what we might think about this or that purpose for transferring Federal (our taxpayer) money to the States, or of Federal transfers to the States generally, this simple fix would at least greatly increase the likelihood of the transferred money actually being used for the claimed purpose.