Federal COVID aid bill would send billions to Washington (including some that could replace lost revenue)

By: Emily Makings
12:23 pm
March 1, 2021

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the aid package proposed by President Biden. The $1.9 trillion price tag includes many different pots of money. Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald reports that federal grants to Washington would increase by at least $7.6 billion under the bill.

I don’t think that figure includes the bill’s state and local fiscal recovery funds. This pot of money is similar to the coronavirus relief fund (part of the CARES Act), but it is even more flexible. The $350 billion fund could be used to respond to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts, and it could be used to replace lost revenue (relative to revenue projections as of Jan. 27, 2020).

Of the $350 billion, $195.3 billion would go to state governments. All state governments would receive at least $500 million. The remainder would be split based on the number of unemployed in a state over the three-month period ending Dec. 2020 compared to the national average. I haven’t seen an estimate yet of what the total allocation to the state of Washington would be.

The most recent revenue forecast in Washington on Jan. 27, 2020 was the Nov. 2019 forecast. Compared to that forecast, there is currently a revenue shortfall of $1.226 billion through 2021–23. (There is not, however, a budget shortfall.) So Washington could use its federal allocation to move $1.226 billion into the general fund. Any allocation on top of that would have to be spent responding to the emergency.

Of the $350 billion, $130.2 billion would go to local governments. According to the National Association of Counties, counties in Washington would receive an estimated $1.490 billion. (They also have a break-out by county. According to their estimates, the allocations to Washington counties would range from $435,370 for Garfield County to $440.8 million for King County.) The National Association of Counties notes that the local government funding would be split evenly between counties and cities, so cities in Washington would also receive $1.490 billion.

The bill would also appropriate $128.6 billion for a new round of the elementary and secondary emergency relief (ESSER) fund, $39.6 billion for a new round of the higher education emergency relief fund, and $19 billion for rental assistance.

According to the House Committee on Education and Labor, schools in Washington would receive $1.952 billion under the bill (on top of $824.9 million in the December aid bill and $216.9 million in the CARES Act). Higher education institutions in Washington would receive $655.4 million (on top of $371.2 million in the December bill and $232.6 million in the CARES Act). Washington would also receive $635 million for child care.

The bill has yet to be passed by the U.S. Senate. According to Politico, “Every Senate Democrat will need to back the behemoth bill, with little time for a serious overhaul ahead of a critical federal jobless aid deadline on March 14. The House is expected to vote again on the Senate’s amended measure in two weeks, before sending it to Biden for his signature.”

Categories: Budget.
Tags: ARP Act , COVID-19 , other federal action on COVID-19