Local coverage on the Biden-Harris Administration’s coronavirus stimulus bill has been sparse. It’s no surprise given the long-running decline in the size of a media community.
The $1.9 trillion measure, labeled the American Rescue Plan Act, passed the Senate and is headed to the House. Click here for the text of the bill.
The Rescue Plan has broad support due to the $1,400 per person payment (with income limits). Hard-hit industries, such as hotels, live entertainment venues, airlines, and restaurants, also supported the bill. The legislation also benefits Amtrak, which employs about 1,000 people in the state.
All U.S. Senate Republicans voted against the bill, citing its cost and states that locked down getting more than their share of help.
One development that received local coverage was the decision by both state’s U.S. Senators, Chris Coons, and Tom Carper, to join Republicans in not including a minimum wage increase in the legislation.
The growing number of progressive Democrats in the state were muted in their response but were not pleased. Expect the minimum wage focus to now shift to the Delaware General Assembly. A Delaware coalition Monday morning announced a quickly called virtual press conference to tout a $15 an hour by 2025 bill now in Dover.
We do have some idea of how much each state will receive through interactive maps from USA Today that show Delaware getting about $1.2 billion.
Based on unemployment rates, the formula drew strong criticism from Republican governors who claimed their states did not get as much money due to their decision to keep their economies open.
Under the formula, Delaware would have received more money had it suffered from higher unemployment.
Delaware’s jobless rate has been slightly below the national average, and the controversial decision to set aside a tiny portion of revenues in anticipation of tougher times paid off. As a result, the General Assembly passed a budget last year with a financial cushion.
It did not hurt that New Castle County got $300 million under last year’s CARES Act, even though it does not operate a public health department. The allocation went to counties with more than half a million residents.
The county money was put to work for Covid-19 testing and a former hotel to house the homeless. The county and state later negotiated a deal that allocated funds for services in Kent and Sussex Counties.
The question that remains for all states is whether the $360 billion for state and local governments was needed. Recent figures seem to point to a more rapid recovery than some had forecast.
Initial signs showed that Delaware faced a revenue crisis before the passage of the CARES Act. That is no longer the case, and the state could have scraped by without federal funds. The same is true for other states in OK fiscal shape.
Then again, imagine the even greater outrage we would have seen if states that did not need the help were frozen out? – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.