FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Andy Beshear has been experimenting with more checks on his government in recent weeks, handing them over to city and state officials to improve water supply.
The small town of Mortons Gap has raised $ 109,000 to supply tap water to six poor families. The people of Martin County, whose water has been heavily contaminated for drinking since the dumping of coal 20 years ago, have earned $ 411,000. The checks contain Mr. Beshear’s signature, but the funding comes from the federal government, part of a larger influx of coronavirus aid that is helping to reflect the budget deficit in Kentucky and many other countries.
There is the Washington controversy. The funds, which Congress approved during the outbreak, are allowed to be used for larger purposes than to combat the virus, including water services such as those in Kentucky. Many countries have also received a “refund” – President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion U.S. Rescue Plan – next month.
But in Washington, Biden do not have the funds to pay for the most important disaster prevention measures – medication, vaccination, testing and reimbursement. Republicans have refused to sign a new petition, citing government refunds as an example of possible repatriation.
“These regions have a lot of money – everyone from Kentucky to California,” said Scott Jennings, a former aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a Republican leader. “People are like: ‘We printed out all this money; we have sent them out. These governments have a lot of money, and now you need more? ‘”
The Republicans were not interested in Biden’s rescue plans, which Democrats admired for Congress without their support. Despite the benefits in many ways at home, McConnell once called it the “Billion-dollar Band-Aid” that could wipe out “extra debt for our grandchildren.”
At Capitol Hill on Thursday, just one day after Biden demanded a majority in Congress, Senate Republicans and Democrats were close to a $ 10 billion emergency aid deal – at least half of Biden’s first request. But they had not yet settled their major disputes over its size and how it could be paid. Republicans want to use unspent funds that have already been approved by Congress, but the parties have failed to agree on which programs should be drafted.
Since the epidemic, the Trump administration and Biden have invested $ 5 trillion in the US economy, including a rescue plan. With the advent of mid-term elections, the amount of government-sponsored funding will be closely monitored as Republicans accuse Democrats of wasting money and increasing inflation, and demand that the money be accounted for.
David Adkins, chief executive and executive director of the Council of State Governments, said such questions were now inevitable as policymakers could work together.
“We have to rely on the idea that countries are democratic laboratories,” Adkins said. “Some of these will fail; some of this money will not be used properly. But that is a way to try to manage distractions. ”
The Rescue Program has set aside $ 195 billion to help countries recover from the epidemic. After Biden sought first aid, lawmakers in both parties negotiated a $ 7 billion return to the state, as part of a $ 1.5 trillion budget.
Officials with responsible Democrats and files were furious, saying that doing so would hurt 31 countries that have not yet received their salaries, and the alliance has been disrupted. It now appears that government spending is non-existent, although this inconsistency has largely demonstrated how reimbursement is spent.
“I have not given the money to the states, but I always believe that once you give it to them, politics will not allow you to return it,” said Missouri Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, Republican chief of the subcommittee. which regulates health expenditure, he said in a recent interview.
All told, the White House has stated that 93 percent of the current American Rescue Plan funds are “legally valid,” meaning that they have already been used or volunteered to be used.
Many countries are starting to use their own money back, or are planning to do so. A recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that although most countries are preparing budgets for the coming year, countries have already budgeted 78 percent of their refunds.
Kentucky, where Beshear, a Democrat, advocating for job growth and fiscal time, ended in 2021 with a record high of $ 1.1 billion, and more is expected this year. The government has already received $ 1.1 billion in federal funds and expects $ 1 billion in May. Spending money on Broadband, promoting tourism and establishing an unemployment insurance fund and coronavirus testing, in addition to fluid changes.
“These dollars are very important and very flexible so that they do not get caught up in the war of attrition,” Mr. Beshear said in an interview, adding: “These are the dollars that help us as we come out of Covid. ”
Congress outlined four main objectives of the fund: health and economic response to the epidemic; providing bonus payments to key employees; to prevent the reduction of government activities; and investing in canal, water or Broadband containers. But countries can also use the money to replace lost money, which enables them to use that money more efficiently.
Arkansas, for example, has provided $ 374,000 for rape; $ 6.3 million to Arkansas Alliance Against Sexual Violence Alliance; and another $ 6.3 million at the Arkansas Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. But much of the money has gone to increase access to Broadband and to meet medical needs.
“Omicron’s differences came, the cases went up, the hospitals were full and we had to spend a lot of our ARPA money to upgrade the medical facilities, home screening and other healthcare solutions,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, uses. a summary of the rescue plan. “Then obviously the responsibility is first, and then we looked at these other requirements.”
Some countries use the funds in ways that are not only compatible with Covid-19, but also acceptable in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Treasury Department.
Alabama provided $ 400 million, or about one-fifth, of building two new prisons, despite public protests against human rights and civil rights activists. Florida provided $ 2 billion, about a quarter of its $ 8.8 billion investment in road construction – an idea that has been criticized by the Florida Policy Institute.
“The purpose of the American Rescue Plan Act was to ensure that people and communities recover from the epidemic, and I think that the money was well spent,” said Esteban Leonardo Santis, a tax and financial analyst. .
Twenty countries, including Kentucky, have spent $ 15 billion to make up for their lost insurance premiums. Independent investigators say this is a tax rebate for businesses, who would probably have had to repay lost money. But Beshear defended it, saying Kentucky businesses grew during the epidemic. Toyota’s local plant made face shields, and bourbon distillers make hand sanitizer, he said.
Of the great Twitter feed has photographs of major checks and smiling officers of the city and state; is running for re-election in 2023.
“If there’s one thing the governor knows how to do, I’m running around the country and giving big checks and cutting big ribs with a big razor,” said Mr. Jennings. “They’re like the actors out there.”
Experts say, and the White House acknowledges, that reimbursement has helped to create additional revenue for the state budget. Gene B. Sperling, senior vice president who oversees the American Rescue Plan, said the additions are proof that the Biden package is working – and this is not the time to go back.
“Ensuring that states and territories have a way to reduce road stress is a wise concept,” Sperling said, “and the lesson we learned from what happened after the Great Depression.”
But the rest can be temporary, and the way countries are using it has sparked controversy over Covid funding. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 14 countries are using temporary surplus funds “to reduce the burden of low and fixed taxes directly on the rich” – a move the headquarters said was “a bad choice.”
Here in Frankfort, the state capital, Kentucky lawmakers in a hurry to finalize their 2022 legislature were working to end high taxes this week. But a request to spend more government money to give Kentuckians a tax up to $ 500 seems unlikely, says his secretary, State Senator Chris McDaniel, chairman of the distribution committee.
Mr McDaniel, a Republican, has spent a lot of time this week focusing on budget negotiations, including planning how to use the next Kentucky compensation fund. Another $ 1 billion is coming, and despite some philosophical doubts, he said he saw no reason not to spend it.
“I definitely believe it was a lot of money that went down,” he said. McDaniel. “I also believe that the people of Kentucki will receive a tax in the end, just like everyone else, and I will not disturb future Kentuckians for their pride.”
Emily Cochrane supported reports from Washington.