Last week, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. It’s an understatement to say that Democrats went big with the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, which is in line with their campaign promises, the advice of economists and public sentiment.
A lot of focus has surrounded the $1,400 stimulus checks that are going out to 85 percent of Americans. But there’s a lot more to this relief package, including much that will benefit Texans.
Included in the package is $350 billion in relief for aid for state and local governments. In spite of Republicans characterizing the aid as a “blue state bail out”, Texas is slated to receive $27 billion. This is 8.5 percent of the total, which is in line with Texas’ overall share of the population.
The Lone Star State will need the money too, having lost a large amount of tax revenue during the pandemic. Texas accounts for 12.6 percent of state tax revenue lost across the nation, second only to California.
$16.8 billion is going to the state government while local governments in Texas will receive more than $10 billion. This includes nearly $900 million for the Dallas area, over $700 million for the San Antonio area, nearly $500 million for Austin and the surrounding counties, and over $1.5 billion for the city of Houston and Harris County.
On top of the state and local aid, Texas schools will receive $12 billion as part of the Biden administration’s $122 billion American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund. The money will assist K-12 schools as they seek to safely reopen, providing things like improved ventilation and additional space for social distancing.
There are numerous other provisions in the American Rescue Plan that will undoubtedly benefit Texans, such as additional funding for vaccines, grants for small businesses, housing assistance and an expanded child tax credit.
Thanks to the relief package, many are now predicting that the U.S. economy will come roaring back by the end of the year. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are predicting that the United States will enjoy around 7 percent GDP growth in 2021; that means the U.S. could grow faster than China for the first time in decades.
In spite of all the benefits and overwhelming public support, every Texas Republican in Congress (along with the rest of the GOP) voted against the bill. Ted Cruz claimed that 91 percent of the bill was “a partisan wishlist paying off the Democratic special interests that got them elected.” Yet some Republicans are already shamelessly trying to steal credit for relief that they tried to block. With millions of Americans still reeling from the pandemic’s fallout, this vote could become a major issue in 2022.
The White House/ Wikimedia Commons