Almost two dozen governors are irate that the House Democratic formula for distributing aid in the COVID-19 relief bill rewards the states where lockdowns did the most damage.
The issue is that instead of dividing the aid by population, the federal formula factors in a state’s unemployment rate.
America’s unemployment rates have varied widely among states depending upon the extent to which a governor implemented a lockdown that led to businesses closing.
For example, in October, Hawaii, a blue state where lockdowns were strict and in force for months, had an unemployment rate of 14.3 percent while South Dakota, a red state where the emphasis was placed on a fast reopening from spring and summer lockdowns, had an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and 21 other governors issued a statement saying that targeting money away from states where less drastic actions kept people working is wrong.
I’ve joined 21 of my fellow Governors to oppose President Biden’s and congressional democrats’ plan to punish states that had a measured approach towards getting their people back to work.
Read our full statement: https://t.co/s6wj5qsgG7
— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) February 27, 2021
“Unlike all previous federal funding packages, the new stimulus proposal allocates aid based on a state’s unemployed population rather than its actual population, which punishes states that took a measured approach to the pandemic and entered the crisis with healthy state budgets and strong economies,” McMaster said in a statement.
“A state’s ability to keep businesses open and people employed should not be a penalizing factor when distributing funds. If Congress is going to provide aid to states, it should be on an equitable population basis.”
Governors signing the statement included Republicans Kay Ivey of Alabama, Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Brad Little of Idaho, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Tate Reeves of Mississippi, Mike Parson of Missouri, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Spencer Cox of Utah and Mark Gordon of Wyoming. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly of Kansas also signed the statement.
“The passage of this bill would send the unmistakable message that Washington politicians expect New Hampshire taxpayers to subsidize poorly run, cash-strapped states,” Sununu said Saturday, according to the New Hampshire Union-Leader.
“While California, New York, and New Jersey make out like bandits with billions of dollars in increased funding, New Hampshire’s taxpayers have left to foot the bill. This is outrageous, and a complete betrayal from previously written funding bills.”
Republican Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, said in a statement that the partisanship of the bill was a disgrace.
“The Democrat plan rewards their friends and political allies and sends billions to states that have boarded up main street, closed schools, and left kids and parents in their communities struggling. It comes at a time when economists say new COVID-19 funding is not needed to maintain healthy economic growth and when $1 trillion in old COVID-19 funding still sits unspent,” he said.
“Rather than work with Republicans to provide relief to those who need it, re-open schools, and get vaccines in arms, House Democrats have chosen to put their partisan ambitions ahead of America’s working class,” he said.
In a Fox News Op-Ed that Smith authored with fellow Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, Smith said rewarding governors who ruined their states’ economies is wrong.
“These lockdowns have meant the closure of more than 100,000 small businesses across the country. Schools have yet to reopen, robbing kids of an education and their parents of time, money and security. Worst of all, there are severe physical and mental scars that can come from keeping communities boarded up,” the congressmen wrote.
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