State Budgets Overflow With (Borrowed) Federal Relief Funds
A key component of the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was giving $350 billion or so to state and local governments to plug the coronavirus-related holes in their budgets.
As states have lifted restrictions on people and businesses, the tax revenues have flowed into state coffers, resulting in budget surpluses and plans for more spending:
…Virginia [for example] has received or is slated to receive about $26.5 billion in federal aid to state and local governments, [budget director Aubrey] Layne said — an amount roughly equivalent to the state’s general fund. The total includes money from last year’s Cares Act and upcoming deposits of about $7.2 billion from the American Rescue Plan.
What to do with all that federal lucre?
Layne urged lawmakers to consider any extra funds as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to help solve long-standing problems, such as the opioid addiction crisis and a statewide shortage of mental health treatment facilities.
It’s more likely the political class will do what’s in its short-term electoral interest than any long-term social good. That’s just how politics and politicians work.
Or course, the broader item that no one is discussing: all this federal money was put on the national credit guard. It’s not free, and should never be confused with a “once-in-a-lifetime” anything.
Every cent will have to be repaid, with interest. The solution to state and local budget woes is obvious: remove government restrictions, and let people get back to work.