Assistance for State and Local Governments
I took a lead role in including $350 billion for states in the American Rescue Plan, making sure that Rhode Island received $1.67 billion in federal funding to assist the state in recovering and thriving. This comes in addition to the $1.25 billion Rhode Island received from the CARES Act allocation. These federal funds may be used to support public health expenditures, address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers, and invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. State and local governments are facing unprecedented challenges as they work to contain the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19, and it falls to the federal government to assist in these times.
The law allows a state to use this funding for costs related to the COVID-19 public health emergency that the state had not previously budgeted for before the law was enacted. The funds may only be used to cover costs incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2020. The Treasury Department has released further guidance on uses for these funds, which is available HERE.
The CARES Act also provides $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. CDBG provides block grants to states and local governments to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is releasing this funding in multiple allocations, and has announced that the first set of CDBG funding will award almost $10 million to Rhode Island. The announced funding represents $2 billion of the overall $5 billion provided for CDBG.
On March 30, 2020, President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Rhode Island, freeing up needed federal emergency aid to help the state combat COVID-19. This major disaster declaration opened up public assistance federal funding to eligible state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations, on a cost-sharing basis, for emergency protective measures related to COVID-19.