What Will State GOP Officials Do to Waste the Covid Relief Money?

Last week there were reports that several Republican-led state governments had planned to use all of the covid relief money they received to pay for — no surprise here — tax cuts. At the last minute, the Senate added language to the bill to stop that.

The state relief primarily is intended to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic, so that state employees don’t have to be laid off or programs cut. “Some $350 billion will be divvied up between the 50 states, D.C. and the territories, funds meant to backstop state and local government programs and to pay for capital investments,” it says here.

Of course, if it so happens the state’s finances aren’t in that bad a shape, they could always use the money in some way to directly help their own citizens, perhaps by providing more food or housing assistance. Or they could use the money to help small businesses stay afloat a bit longer. They can spend it on a lot of things.

Under the new law, $25 billion will be divided equally among states, while $169 billion will be allocated based on a state’s unemployment rate. States can use the money for pandemic-related costs, offsetting lost revenues to provide essential government services, and for water, sewer and broadband infrastructure projects.

But no, Republicans want tax cuts. And they are furious that the law won’t allow them to use the covid money to pay for tax cuts by “legislation, regulation or administration” through 2024. They also can’t deposit the money into pension funds. And they are pissed.

Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana, introduced legislation to reverse it.

“Democrats are trying to ban states from cutting taxes with a sneaky amendment to the $1.9 trillion so-called Covid relief package,” Mr. Braun said. “Not only did this blue-state bailout bill penalize states for reopening by calculating state funds based on unemployment, now they are trying to use it as a back door to ban states from cutting taxes.”

If it’s a “blue state bailout” bill, then how come red states are getting money, too?

There is one other way the red states can waste the covid money, a means discovered by Missouri Governor Mike Parsons. They can refuse to spend it at all. They could pile it up under mattresses or use bags of cash for doorstops. Anything but put it into circulation.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Missourians should have good reason to cheer because around $5 billion is now heading the state’s way from the new $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package signed by President Joe Biden. In reality, it remains to be seen where that money will go — if it goes anywhere. Gov. Mike Parson seems unprepared to think creatively and proactively no matter how much the extra infusion is needed to get Missourians back on their feet. Parson has yet to disburse at least $820 million out of the federal relief funds the state received nearly a year ago.

Money that can and should go toward helping schools, corrections facilities, public safety agencies and economic development programs cope with pandemic turmoil is, instead, sitting on the table doing nothing. State Auditor Nicole Galloway reported last week that Parson had failed to disburse about $1.4 billion as of Jan. 31.

One cannot underestimate the incompetence of Gov. Mike Parson.

He had a plan last summer to spend $15 million of the covid funds promoting tourism. This was during a time in which several states were imposing quarantines on out of state visitors.

State Economic Director Rob Dixon called the tourism marketing a necessary boost to the state economy with more than 40 percent of Americans saying they do not plan to travel for the remainder of the year.

Um, let’s not make sense or anything.

“This is a new normal for the world economy. It’s a new normal for our state’s economy, and we’re going to have to go about doing business with the virus around us,” he said, according to the Star.

The Kansas City Star editorial board had some choice things to say about the tourism promotion plan. It’s not clear to me if the plan was implemented, though.

I have little faith the $5 billion coming to Missouri will be spent in any way that will do anyone any good. I’ll try to keep watch and let you know. And it’s very likely a lot of red states will manage to piss the money off, somehow.


14 thoughts on “What Will State GOP Officials Do to Waste the Covid Relief Money?

  1. Uh…  Could also be the NFL Arizona Cardinals, too!

    But football don't start 'til after Labor Day. 

    So, 's-up with the question?

    Or were the Cardinals you referred to in the RC Church?

  2. I like very much that Dems are smart enough to put in that provision, from long experience in dealing w the Rs.

  3. The brazenness is amazing.  Here you have a bill obviously for working people and this clown has the nerve to be mad he can't use it for tax cuts.

    And then you have Parsons just sitting on millions of dollars rather than spending it to help the people in his state.  

    Its always too much for the poor but never enough for the wealthy.

    It's not just that republicans exist to serve the wealthy, they go out of their way to hate and hurt the poor.  Missourians should be outraged.

    • Missourians should be outraged.

      And yet they're not. Who's in charge of the Democratic Party in Missouri? Do they get funding for their candidates from the DNC? DCCC? DSCC? Do they hire "consultants?" I think that's your trouble. 

      • Who’s in charge of the Democratic Party in Missouri?

        Nobody that I know of. There are some good Democrats here. However, a cabal of hard right Republicans pretty much runs the state and does not exactly fight fair. Here’s a post I wrote last November about one race and how the Republican attorney general filed fake charges against a Democratic gubernatorial candidate that were dropped right after the election.

        • The level of cruelty and disdain is just mind blowing. People are hurting because of the pandemic. The funds could be used as intended to alleviate some of the suffering, and address related issues such as with truly small businesses in the state.  Some states are struggling just trying to help their people and don't have enough funds to do it.  Yet here you have the state GOP sitting on the funds to intentionally not provide any help, just to make a political point which is, what?  We're still with that hateful loser, DJT?  

  4. Mo, can and should use that money to reduce it's carbon footprint.  Every weekend in the summertime there is a line of cars, boats, and campers out of Kansas City to lakes to the south.  A giant traffic jam.  Another one happens on Sunday night the other way.  An unsustainable debauchery of carbon waste.  Let us just say that habit will end one way or another. If they want to continue to enjoy some green they need to start thinking greener and spending greener.  Some one is going to have to "show me" to them on the way to do that of course.  


    • I love Katie Porter, you love Katie Porter, progressives love Katie Porter; so…

      Katie Porter lost one of her best platforms on the House Financial Services Committee after upsetting the Wall Street masters of 'PayGo' Pelosi and the Democratic House Leadership.

  5. There's more than malice or stupidity in play here. If the state uses the money wisely, the people benefit and it reflects well on the federal government and the Biden Administration. Let me explain with a true story.

    Back in the mid-80's in a small town in NC, there were two OB/GYNs. One was a butcher who actually killed a child in birth with forceps. He'd have gone out of business except he was Christian and the other doctor was Muslim. (And a good doctor.)  Most women in the town of Four Oaks would have self-aborted with a clothes hanger before they let a  non-Baptist near their private parts. 

    So it is in red states. No price of pain and suffering (borne by the middle and lower-classes) is to great to prevent a victory for Democrats.

  6. The federal govt should preempt all tax streams that interfere with interstate commerce.  I am not aware of any form of taxation currently used by state govts, and can't readily think of any they could come up with now, that do not interfere with interstate commerce, the regulation of which is one of the enumerated powers and duties explicitly reserved to the federal govt.

    It is true that in 1789 the states had abundant intrastate commerce whose activities they could tax without interfering with interstate commerce.  Most of us were mostly subsistence farmers then, at a time when transportation costs prohibited selling any produce of a farm more than a few miles away, with the exception of a very short list of luxury crops like tobacco.  Even the few people who lived in the rudimentary cities we had then were almost all tradesmen supplied locally and selling locally.

    Gone are the days.  Maybe there are some pot growers way up in the boonies in various states who operate off the grid, whose produce is sold almost entirely within state borders.  Make that legal in order to tax it, and those enterprises would become interstate commerce overnight.  Even residential real estate is open to interstate buying and selling.  Can you name a single industrial or commercial enterprise that rests even predominantly, much less entirely, on intrastate commerce?

    Forget about states misusing federal govt funds.  Cut out the middlemen, and make all govt revenue and then all govt spending federal.  Let's find out how all those unreconstructed states like living in a republic under our glorious Constitution, and not in a democracy where their state gets a vote on how money is spent.   


Comments are closed.