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Friday, March 5, 2021
Federal COVID Aid: Hawaii Gets 143% of Losses
By Tax Foundation @ 7:47 PM :: 2854 Views :: Economy, Hawaii Statistics, COVID-19

State Aid in American Rescue Plan Act Is 116 Times States’ Revenue Losses

by Jared Walczak, Tax Foundation, March 3, 2021

Preliminary data suggest that states closed out calendar year 2020 with only $1.7 billion less revenue  than they generated in 2019 (a decline of less than 0.2 percent), not counting federal assistance, while municipal governments actually experienced substantial revenue growth due to rising property values. Yet the American Rescue Plan Act sets aside $350 billion in additional state and local aid. Increasingly, federal proposals to provide a cash infusion for state and local governments has become a solution in search of a problem.

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have now published revenue data for all 12 months of 2020; in those states, revenues are up $3.2 billion in aggregate compared to the previous calendar year, thanks to robust gains in financial markets and federal assistance that has kept businesses afloat and provided benefits to individuals. Some of those are, indeed, taxable benefits, in the case of enhanced and expanded unemployment compensation benefits. For the remaining seven states, it is necessary to project revenues through the end of the calendar year based either on U.S. Census Bureau data through the three quarters, or, in Nevada and New Mexico, state data running through October and November respectively.

These adjustments yield an aggregate $1.7 billion decline in state revenues. Under the American Rescue Plan Act, states would receive $195.3 billion in aid, divided according to each state’s share of national unemployed workers. While some conservative lawmakers have criticized this allocation model (which benefits states with steeper job losses) on the grounds that different state policies and approaches may yield some of this variation and that the federal government should be neutral to these decisions, we have argued previously that using the change in unemployment is a more efficient targeting method than allocating aid per capita. Far less defensible, however, is the notion that aid to states should be 116 times the decline in state revenues—especially since the federal government has already provided over $200 billion in fungible aid to subnational governments.

Local governments, meanwhile, would receive $130.2 billion, split evenly between cities and counties, with aid to cities based on the existing formula for Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) and county aid based on population. The CDBG formula takes into account population, poverty, and the age and density of housing, as it was designed for grants administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Human Services (HUD) to promote affordable housing and expand economic opportunities for low-income households. Data for municipal revenues are only available for the first three quarters of calendar year 2020, but local revenues actually rose by $29.8 billion over that period compared to the same period in 2019, and there is every reason to believe that this trajectory has continued. Local governments have more revenue than they did a year ago, but the American Rescue Plan Act would still provide them with $130.2 billion.

The remaining $24.5 billion in the state and local aid packages would provide another $20 billion in assistance to tribal governments and a further $4.5 billion to U.S. territories. Unlike the CARES Act, which allocated aid to the District of Columbia using the same formula used for territories, the American Rescue Plan Act would not only treat D.C. as a state for purposes of aid but would provide the District with an additional $755 million payment to account for what it would have received under the CARES Act under a state designation. The District of Columbia recently announced a $526 million surplus.

The following table shows each state’s estimated revenue gains or losses in 2020, alongside the state and local aid that would be allocated to each under the American Rescue Plan Act. Federal aid as a percentage of loss is for the state component only (state aid as a percentage of state revenue loss, where states have lost revenue). Aid per capita incorporates aid to both states and localities. The American Rescue Plan Act provides $1,066 in state and local aid per capita nationwide, and the $195.3 billion earmarked for state governments is almost 116 times the states’ aggregate revenue losses. For state revenue data, we largely rely on monthly tax collections data collected by Marc Joffe at the Reason Foundation, updated where appropriate and projected through the end of the year for the seven states with data limitations….

read … Full Report

  State Hawaii
  Revenue Change ($1,151,388,697)
American Rescue Plan Act Aid Allocations State Aid $1,644,606,113
Local Aid $481,024,078
Total Aid $2,125,630,191
Federal Aid Calculations % of Loss 143%
Per Capita $1,501



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