by Christina Gordley 

The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated health disparities, with marked differences in health outcomes linked to social, economic or environmental disadvantages observed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act was designed, in part, to achieve greater equity. Guidance from the U.S. Treasury required that funds be used to address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the inequitable health and welfare impact of the pandemic on certain populations.  

CSG analysists conducted a review of the language in the state performance recovery plans that each state — so far — submitted to the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help illustrate how the states are using the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to achieve equitable outcomes.  

Of the 36 plans available by press time (states continue to submit and publish these plans), 29 states addressed the intent and plan to achieve equitable outcomes using the state and local fiscal recovery funds. CSG analyzed the text of these submitted plans to examine the similarities in the approach and actions taken by the states.  

Nationally, the most used word in the section to describe state actions was “business,” which was used 122 times among the documents. While it may seem odd for the use of business so frequently to address inequalities in systemic barriers, states have the unique position to leverage use of incentives and procurement models to promote businesses to achieve desired outcomes in workforce equity. 

Words used nationally to address equitable outcomes by frequency are: 

  1. Business 
  1. Service 
  1. Access 
  1. Impact 
  1. Economy 
  1. Provide 
  1. Health 
  1. Pandemic 
  1. Education 
  1. Recovering 

Each state faces unique needs and challenges when addressing equity, and when examining the approach to equitable outcomes by region, the focus of the language in the state-submitted reports changed. For example, states in the East referenced business, service, impact and access most during their report on equitable outcomes, whereas in the West, the words most used were health, provide, house and business. 

Read more about ARP equity guidance in Capitol Ideas magazine (2021, Issue 5)

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