Area towns are set to see a massive influx of federal funding for both town and school operations to help cover costs related to the coronavirus pandemic following Wednesday’s final passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.
While specific allocations may change, several area towns are slated to receive millions, and in some cases tens of millions of dollars, in local aid and education funding, according to numbers provided by the office of U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District.
East Hartford is expected to be among the biggest winners, with current estimates showing it would receive about $14 million in municipal funding and nearly $23 million for its school system.
Manchester could receive $14 million and $17 million for local aid and education, respectively.
Current expectations show Windsor getting about $2.8 million for municipal aid and more than $5 million for schools. Glastonbury could get a total of about $4.7 million, East Windsor roughly $3.3 million, South Windsor about $3.8 million, and Windsor Locks roughly $3.6 million.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Joseph D. Courtney, D-2nd District, estimated his district would receive at least $167 million in relief spread among its 64 municipalities, as well as more than $100 million in aid for counties in the district, which encompasses all of New London, Tolland, and Windham counties, as well as parts of Hartford, Middlesex, and New Haven counties.
At that time, projections showed close to $10 million for Enfield, more than $6 million for Vernon, and more than $3 million for Ellington.
Expectations showed that Coventry could receive about $2.5 million, more than $2 million for Somers, more than $3 million for Tolland, and about $1 million for Bolton.
Municipal funding can be used to help cover excess costs for first responders, health departments, and other costs related to the pandemic, and education funding can go toward purchasing personal protective equipment, ventilation in classes, and robust summer programs to prepare students to return to school next year, among other things.
The federal package also includes $20 billion to establish a national COVID-19 vaccine program, as well as provisions to extend subsidies through the Affordable Care Act to make health care more affordable and cover premiums through COBRA for those who have lost their employer-sponsored coverage.
The bill provides a 100% subsidy to pay for COBRA employer-sponsored health benefits so those who have lost their jobs won’t have to pay anything to continue those plans, according to Courtney’s office.
“The American Rescue Plan is a bold response to a totally unprecedented and economically existential threat that cannot be met with half measures,” Courtney said in a written statement. “Our bill will seriously ramp up the federal response with a nationwide vaccine program, and with provisions that protect and expand health care for our most vulnerable citizens.”
He added that municipal aid will help cover costs that are ongoing, saying that local food bank drive-thrus and vaccination clinics are often staffed by local police who are transporting vaccines and managing crowds.
Courtney said the relief would go directly and quickly to where it’s needed most, and allows some flexibility for local leaders.
In a written statement, Larson called the measure “the most significant piece of legislation since the New Deal,” adding that it is “in stark contrast to the $2 trillion Republican tax break” passed under former President Donald Trump.
Rather than giving tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy and corporations, Larson said, the new federal package aims to protect working-class people who have been impacted the most by the pandemic.
“The American Rescue Plan will put shots in people’s arms, money in people’s pockets, and provide relief for their communities and schools,” he said.
All said, Larson expects Connecticut to get $10 billion in total funding through municipal and educational aid, state aid, direct payments to individuals, unemployment and rental assistance, and other funds.
According to Courtney’s office, Connecticut will receive more than $4.3 billion in aid for the state and municipalities, as well as more than $1.1 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade schools.
Gov. Ned Lamont called the legislation “a game changer for Connecticut and the entire nation.”
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, highlighted, among other provisions, a historic expansion of child tax credits that is expected to cut child poverty in half throughout the country by expanding the credit from $2,000 to $3,000 for children younger than 18 and to $3,600 for those younger than 6.
“By expanding and improving the child tax credit, an effort I have led for nearly two decades, investing in our schools and child care industry, and providing funding to keep our Connecticut’s first responders, frontline health care workers, and other providers of vital services on the job, we are building the infrastructure for the future,” she said in a written statement. “These investments are necessary for Connecticut’s recovery.”
“This package delivers on our promise to give America the resources it needs to start a safe return to normal life,” U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, said in a written statement.
The state’s congressional delegation and Lamont praised President Joe Biden for his commitment to tackling the pandemic and economic fallout associated with it.
“President Biden pledged to all Americans that his administration would meet the challenge of this pandemic head-on using every tool in the U.S. government’s disposal,” Lamont said in a written statement. “This legislation is a tremendous step in fulfilling that promise. … It’s a remarkable achievement.”
Following Wednesday’s vote in the U.S. House, Biden is expected to sign the enormous COVID-19 relief package on Friday. Not a single congressional Republican voted in favor of the bill.