SLLC Files SCOTUS Brief in Significant Spending Clause Case

ealth and Hospital Corp. of Marion County, Indiana v. Talevski the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hold that private parties can’t bring lawsuits for money damages under Spending Clause legislation unless the statute explicit states such suits are possible.

Continue reading

A Closer Look: White House Summit Announces Historic Investments in Registered Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeship Programs

By Mary Wurtz

CSG provided an initial summary of this event earlier this week. This article looks further into how states can take advantage of apprenticeships as a way to develop the workforce.

The White House hosted the American Rescue Plan Act Workforce Development Summit on July 13 to announce more than $40 billion in funding. In her opening remarks, Vice President Kamala Harris called the funding “a direct investment in working people in America.”

Local leaders from across the country shared examples of how their cities, counties and states are utilizing funding from the act to build a skilled workforce that strengthens capital infrastructure and public health and expands participation among underserved populations. One focus of the event was the historic levels of federal investment in the promotion of Registered Apprenticeship Programs and pre-apprenticeship programs, especially for infrastructure-related occupations.

Apprenticeship is a work-based learning model that enables individuals to receive supervised on-the-job training and job-related education while earning a competitive, full-time wage. The U.S. Department of Labor has validated and catalogued apprenticeships for more than 80 years as part of the Registered Apprenticeship Program. Pre-apprenticeship programs provide resources to prepare individuals to enter and complete Registered Apprenticeships.

Leaders shared their communities’ plans to utilize federal funding to promote apprenticeships during a panel focused on encouraging public-private sector partnerships to develop a diverse workforce.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell presented on the county’s efforts to promote infrastructure apprenticeships, with a special focus on the need for equity through investment in historically underserved communities. The county is utilizing $40 million to launch a High Road Apprenticeship Readiness Program, which will double the number of trainees participating in and placed through construction and infrastructure programs by the end of 2024. The funding will allow Los Angeles County to build on the strong outcomes already achieved, including $20/hour median starting wages, according to Mitchell.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser presented on the DC Infrastructure Academy , an innovative job-training program that recruits, screens and trains residents to pursue infrastructure careers in construction, energy, telecommunications, roads and water. Through employer-led training partnerships, paid job readiness training programs and apprenticeships, the academy has helped connect more than 2,300 residents to careers in infrastructure. Federal funding will enable the academy to train an additional 400 residents over the next two years.

Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, shared his administration’s proposal to use Rescue Plan funding to expand pre-apprenticeships through the Kentuckiana Builds program. This six-week pre-apprenticeship training program teaches specialized construction skills in partnership with the Louisville Urban League and the Carpenters Union. The program has provided over 350 individuals with access to union apprenticeships and construction jobs. Federal investments will enable Louisville to expand this program, with a focus on formerly incarcerated individuals. John O’Grady, commissioner of Franklin County, Ohio, also shared how funding will be used to fund job training programs like the Building Futures Pre-Apprenticeship Program to support low-income residents pursuing skilled construction trades.

These investments are just a few of the ways federal funding will be used to promote Registered Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs over the next several years. For example, the Department of Labor and Department of Transportation recently partnered to encourage state transportation agencies to use a portion of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest in Registered Apprenticeships in infrastructure jobs. States are encouraged to develop Registered Apprenticeships to fill jobs created by the law, especially in the fields of transportation, renewable energy, public utilities and information technology.

The July 13 summit highlighted one of many opportunities for states and cities to take advantage of federal funding to promote Registered Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs. Through these initiatives, states can utilize apprenticeships to meet critical workforce needs and develop quality, high-paying jobs for residents.

Overview of the American Rescue Plan Workforce Summit

By Blair Lozier

On July 13, the American Rescue Plan Workforce Summit took place on behalf of Vice President Kamala Harris, the White House American Rescue Plan Implementation Team and the White House Office on Intergovernmental Affairs. The summit addressed key areas of infrastructure that were funded through the American Rescue Plan Act including public health, infrastructure and expanding the workforce. Here are some of the highlighted examples of state and local governments putting American Rescue Plan dollars to work from the summit:

Perspectives from the States

The American Rescue Plan allocated $350 billion for state, local, territorial and tribal governments. Within the $350 billion, $195 billion was allocated directly to state governments. With the historic amount of funds given to states, the summit highlighted two states that are making a difference by using the funding for transformational change.

  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper was able to maximize the delivery of health care by utilizing the increased the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage and implementing the Medicaid expansion provisions available from the Biden administration.
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe discussed the efforts to transform the post-secondary education system within his state.

Infrastructure Jobs focus on Pre-Apprenticeships

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law distributes $550 billion in a federal program mostly dedicated to states and localities. States and cities presented innovative ways that they have been distributing the American Rescue Plan dollars to create jobs and skilled workers for building infrastructure through pre-apprenticeships.

  • North America’s Building Trade Union highlighted a pre-apprentice model developed for Building Trades Academy in the Baltimore–Washington, D.C., area. The apprentice program provides guided access into the building trade, they partner with local counsel, state and community-based organizations to end barriers and attract individuals to the workforce.
  • Franklin County, Ohio, developed the Building Futures Program. This 12-week program is to get individuals ready for a career in construction.
  • Los Angeles County, California, created the High Roads Training partnerships to Build Back Equity. This partnership invests in career opportunities, launches a worker equity fund, supplies intensive case management, and removes barriers to success in underserved populations.
  • In Kentucky, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer presented Kentuckiana Works. This program is designed to help individuals with training for skilled workers.
  •  Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is funding an Infrastructure Academy. The Infrastructure Academy is for high-impact job areas with good compensation to eliminate the housing crisis within the D.C. area.

Care and Public Health Workforce

The America Rescue Plan also had a focus on funds for care infrastructure, which includes child care, public health, health care and elderly care. Service Employees International Union Secretary April Verrett mentioned the importance of elderly care, “All 50 states applied for home care dollars.” The Caregiver Initiative is all about investing in care and enabling caregivers the pay they deserve.

  • Ramsey County, Minnesota, distributed every penny of its American Rescue Plan funds for transformation and foundation work in The Early Childhood Academy and Career Pathways program. The Early Childhood Academy aims are eliminating barriers in child care. Career Pathways program supply training for health care professions.
  • The Erie County, New York, Health Care Careers Grant provides training for health care occupations that are in high demand.
  • FAST Programs were developed in Manchester, New Hampshire, to encourage community building. The intended purpose is to reduce unintended emergency calls, supply the proper level of care in situations and empower the community to work together by becoming community health workers.
  • Community RISE Programs are developed to promote health care education to underserved populations. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services throughout the U.S. and territories.

Expanding Access to the Workforce for Underserved Populations

States are using the American Rescue Plan to end barriers to gaining employment. Here are some examples:

  • In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, WRTP Big Step is an apprenticeship to supply sustainable jobs by removing lead pipes. Employ Milwaukee aids individuals with employment, the goal is to get people out of the low-income/poverty cycle.
  •  Harris County, Texas, developed Employ to Empower where individuals can aid individuals experiencing homelessness by gaining work, career readiness and other resources that give a helping hand.
  • Opportunity Memphis focuses on R3: rethinking, rebuilding and rebranding individuals between 16-24 looking for workforce readiness in Memphis, Tennessee.

Putting American Rescue Plan Dollars to Work: Utah

Financial transparency and interbranch collaboration are important to Utah as the state focuses on equitable distribution of federal funds

By Christina Gordley

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provided $195 billion directly to states through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. States are to use this assistance to:

  • Respond to the negative economic impacts of the public health emergency.
  • Provide premium pay for specific professions.
  • Replace lost revenue.
  • Invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
  • Provide assistance to disproportionately impacted households and communities.

States have focused on how to best use the funds and sustain long-term economic recovery since the relief was enacted in March 2021. Recently, the Senate Finance Committee requested the Government Accountability Office begin a review and assessment for oversight and accountability of how states have used the State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds to ensure proper use and transparency. Just as the impact of the pandemic has varied by state and region, the use of funds and the transparency surrounding spending has differed across the country.

Utah is an example of a state using several methods to provide financial transparency and interbranch collaboration for the strategic and equitable distribution of these federal funds. The Executive Appropriations Committee initially divided $1.65 billion of the state fiscal recovery and capital funds into broad categories.

Utah Sen. Kirk Cullimore described how “the buckets were established based on the criteria from the federal guidelines and regulations for items like public health response as it should, sectors of the economy that were drastically impacted more than others, infrastructure, things like water, infrastructure, networking and broadband, education remediation, access to justice and then housing and homelessness. Each of those buckets were the big, big things we were going to try to address. Within those buckets, we created seven principles that had to be met in order to spend these federal funds.”

Original Category AllocationAmount
(in Millions USD)
Revenue Replacement, Unemployment and Infrastructure$630
Water Infrastructure$280
Public Health Response and Remediation$205
Networking and Broadband$175
Emergency Preparedness$110
Education Remediation$80
Housing and Homeless$70
Impacted Economies$65
Access to Justice$35
Total$1,650
Source: Utah Office of Legislative Fiscal Analyst May 17, 2021

Transparency and oversight

Cullimore described the use of seven guiding principles for allocating the rescue plan funds to ensure compliance with the federal guidelines and to achieve the statewide goals. The guiding principles established for the use of the state and local fiscal recovery funds were:

  1. Fall within the broad policy category.
  2. Do not finance a function performed by another level of government or private sector.
  3. Avoid a structural deficit or expectation for funding on an ongoing project with one-time funds.
  4. Inspire innovation.
  5. Provide improved government provision of service
  6. Avoid inflationary pressures by creating unmet demand
  7. Follow the established budgetary review prioritization and recommendation process.  

Each policy category was assigned to one of the appropriation subcommittees to review each project request for adherence to the guiding principles seek public opinion, and sometimes they were able to direct the project to be funded through other streams of funding in the American Rescue Plan.  

Utah’s allocation of these state and local fiscal recovery funds is available on various websites hosted by different state agencies. The legislature provides information in the Flexible Federal ARPA Dollars report. The state auditor provides an interactive dashboard data tool to view the distribution decisions of local governments and non-entitlement units. The Office of Planning and Budget hosts the Utah Coronavirus Stimulus Summary. Budgeted and expended amounts for each spending category and project are provided. The interactive display by Utah is a unique approach, allowing the user to select four streams of revenue from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Rescue Plan Act and additional state funding budgeted for the same program. For example, grants to impacted businesses include $15 million from the rescue plan act, $64.3 million from Coronavirus Relief Fund and $213,0000 from state funds.

Cross branch collaboration and innovation

Cullimore explained, “the Executive Appropriation Committee is made-up of members of leadership, both in the majority and minority of both the Senate and the House. I understand that is a little bit unique to Utah, but it’s been very effective, and obviously, it helps.” For the infusion of rescue plan funds, Utah was not faced with filling holes in the budget and Cullimore felt that Utah was a unique place with established fiscal resiliency after years of building up the reserve funds and budget contingencies funds to prepare for an economic downturn like COVID-19 has the potential of presenting. To allocate the unexpected federal funds, he spoke highly of the usual collaborative budget process that is generally accepted practice in Utah and incorporated a lot of advice from the executive offices that were directed with spending the funds.

In a May 2021 special session, the Utah legislature appropriated $50 million of federal relief for the COVID-19 Local Assistance Matching Grant Program, a statewide competitive program created to leverage state and local funds for projects that will provide the most significant impact on rural and urban communities. The five-member application review committee included a cross-section of state and local leaders with one member each from the Utah Senate, House of Representatives, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Association of Counties. The collaboration among branches and layers of government provided inclusive and strategic planning to avoid duplication of funding. The scoring guidelines focused on the project’s potential impact on individuals and communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, long-term benefits, innovation and measurable results.

As a member of the application review committee, Cullimore described how the matching grant program was aimed to incentivize local governments that had their own American Rescue Plan funding to use it to achieve regional and statewide goals for a large impact instead of focusing on individual local goals. He lauds how the Local Assistance Matching Grant Program was wildly successful and used $50 million to match local funding awarded to 36 projects for a total of $300.7 million impact throughout Utah. The largest portion went to water infrastructure projects that address a critical yet expensive need that local communities could not finance independently. In the Weber River Watershed Restoration Project in Summit County, a $1 million investment from the grant program ensured the $84 million project to address the rural water and wastewater needs. Using $1.5 million in Tooele County, it secured a large return on investment for a $19.4 million project for rural housing.

Equity and inclusion

The Multicultural Advisory Committee of Utah’s COVID-19 Response was convened to provide an inclusive lens for public policy development. The committee was composed of racially and ethnically diverse leaders from state agencies, non-profit and community-based organizations, faith-based entities, health care and education advocates and the private sector. Members engaged in strategy workgroups to identify gaps in the delivery of services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons Learned about communications, digital equity, economic sustainability, food security, equitable access to health care, language access and housing services have provided strategies to be applied in all facets of government. Utah used the input to inform the allocation of several programs and initiatives to help achieve a more equitable recovery. Using the local matching grant program as a successful model, Utah invested $35 million to support a Redeveloping Matching Grant Program to incentivize local redevelopment and rezoning of commercial, retail or vacant industrial land for higher density affordable housing to serve disproportionately impacted communities.

Like many states, Utah is working to ensure an equitable recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and has utilized funds from the American Rescue Plan to provide opportunities for investment in education, social services, housing, water infrastructure and investments.

This story is the first in a series that will highlight the use of American Rescue Plan funds by state governments.

How is your state using American Rescue Plan funds to make an impact? You can help The Council of State Governments tell your story. Email research@csg.org to let us know how your state is successfully using ARPA funding.

Tribal Nations Allocate American Rescue Plan Funds for Citizens, Housing, Health and Other Infrastructure

By Rachel Dietert

Native American nations faced disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 that amplified existing health inequities caused by underfunded health systems and services, insufficient infrastructure and underlying health disparities.

Underfunded health systems have led to a lack of testing and treatment opportunities for Native Americans. Insufficient infrastructure, such as a lack of water and overcrowded housing, can heighten the impact of COVID-19. Health disparities such as chronic illnesses, diabetes and obesity also impacts the prevalence of COVID-19 in Native American populations. (More information about the causes behind the high rates of COVID-19 in Native American populations can be found here). Through the American Rescue Plan Act, $32 billion was allocated to help these tribal communities recover from the pandemic.

The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, a part of the American Rescue Plan, is a pot of somewhat discretionary funding that must be used to address the impact of the pandemic. This means that if tribes can justify how their spending of these funds addresses the impact of the pandemic, they are able to determine how these funds are used. Included in the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund is $20 billion allocated to 570 federally recognized tribes. Here is a breakdown of that allocation:

Five Tribes Awarded the Most American Rescue Plan Funding

TribeEnrolled CitizensFull-Time Equivalent Annual EmployeesTotal ARPA Funding
Navajo Nation399,49414,906$2,079,461,465
Cherokee Nation391,00211,903$1,996,025,479
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma202,50210,256$1,094,352,141
Chickasaw Nation72,30714,661$552,614,537
Muscogee (Creek) Nation90,7944,715$493,282,104

*This is a combination of all funding sources in the American Rescue Plan from direct allocations and the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.

Oklahoma is home to four out of five of these tribal nations, which received funds totaling $4.1 billion. The fifth tribe, the Navajo Nation, is located in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Few tribal nations have published what they plan to do with the funding other than providing direct assistance to their citizens. However, the Cherokee Nation has provided some insight on how they plan to use these American Rescue Plan funds:

  • $840.12 million — Direct payments to every Tribal citizen.
  • $131.53 million — “Housing/quarantine/domestic violence.”
  • $131.53 million — Education, native language revitalization and higher education relief and assistance.
  • $191.61 million — Government revenue replacement.
  • $142.31 million — Health infrastructure and behavioral health and wellness programs.

Information on how the Cherokee Nation allocated the remaining 28% of its share can be found here.

The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin has also published how it plans to use these funds from the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund:  

  • $5.1 million — Directly to tribal members.
  • $2.5 million — New cultural center.
  • $1 million — Repatriating 854 acres from Bayfield County (Due to the Dawes Act, reservations were broken up, and land was allotted to individual tribal members. Eventually, much of this land was no longer owned by tribal members. The act of repatriation is returning the land to the tribe. More information about repatriation in Bayfield County can be found here.)
  • $12.6 million — New housing developments.
  • $1.5 million — Infrastructure.
  • $4.2 million — Premium pay to tribal employees.

The remaining tribe allocations can be found here.

In addition to Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds that went directly to tribal governments, Native American nations also received funding through federal agencies. The section-by-section allocations can be found here. The three agencies allocated the most funding are:

  • Section 11001: $6.1 billion to Indian Health Services to fund COVID-19 vaccine campaigns and testing, third party medical billing reimbursements, construction of Indian Health Services facilities, telehealth, potable water delivery and behavioral health.
  • Section 2202: $1.1 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to support tribes participating in the Child Care and Development Block Grant program which provides financial assistance to help low-income families afford child care.
  • Section 11002: $900 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to address the impact of COVID-19 on social welfare and public safety programs. This includes money toward tribal government services, the Bureau’s Housing Improvement program, potable water delivery and administrative costs and oversight.

Through direct payments to citizens and tribal governments, these funds will address the inequities in Native American communities that were exacerbated during the pandemic.

Sales Tax Holidays Explained

By Blair Lozier

As inflation continues to put pressures on communities across the country, many states are implementing a sales tax holiday, or a period when specific items are exempt from states sales tax, to help encourage consumer spending and provide relief for those individuals feeling the pinch of rising costs.

A common example is a “back to school” tax holiday, which removes sales tax on items children need for school including shoes, clothing and school supplies . Recently, states have enacted emergency supplies holidays at times when natural disasters are most prevalent. The tax relief is generally focused on power generators, housing protection and materials to help recover from a disaster that occurs.

This is not a new practice — since 1997, 27 states have implemented at least one sales tax holiday. Michigan and Ohio enacted the first sales tax holidays in 1980, focused on automobile sales. A few years later, New York implemented a sales tax holiday on clothing to compete with neighboring New Jersey, which did not have a sales tax on clothing at the time. In 2021, 17 states temporarily suspended sales taxes to encourage consumer spending, particularly on goods they would purchase anyway.

Note: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon do not tax sales of consumer goods.
Data from 1980-2017 was gathered through the Tax Foundation.

2022 Sales Tax Holidays

Back to School

This year, 16 states have enacted a “back to school” sales tax holiday stretching between July 15 and Aug. 27, with 11 of those states having holidays during Aug. 5-7. All 16 states include clothing and footwear as sales tax exemptions, and eight include school supplies, accessories and computers among the tax-exempt items. Florida’s holiday also includes learning aids.

StateDatesWhat is IncludedItemized list
AlabamaJuly 15-17Clothing, computers, computer software supplies, school supplies and booksQualifying Items
ArkansasAug. 6-7Clothing, clothing accessories, electronic devices, school supplies, art supplies and instructional materialsQualifying Items
ConnecticutAug. 21-27Clothing and footwearQualifying items
FloridaJuly 25-Aug. 7Learning aid items, clothing and accessories, school supplies and computers and computer-related accessoriesQualifying Items  
IllinoisAug. 5-14Clothing, footwear and school suppliesQualifying Items  
IowaAug. 5-6Clothing and footwearQualifying Items  
MarylandAugust 14-20Clothing, footwear and accessoriesQualifying Items  
MississippiJuly 29-30Clothing, footwear, accessories and school suppliesQualifying Items  
MissouriAug. 5-7Clothing, school supplies, computers and software and graphing calculatorsQualifying Items
New MexicoAug. 5-7Clothing, footwear, computers and school suppliesQualifying Items  
OhioAug. 5-7Clothing and school suppliesQualifying Items  
OklahomaAug. 5-7Clothing and footwearQualifying Items
South CarolinaAug. 5-7Clothing, accessories, footwear, school supplies, computers and backpacksQualifying Items  
TennesseeJuly 29-31Clothing, school supplies and computersQualifying Items  
TexasAug. 5-7Clothing, footwear, school supplies, face masks, backpacks and school supplies Clothing School Supplies
West VirginiaAug. 5-8Clothing, school supplies, instruction materials, computers and sports equipmentQualifying Items  

Energy Efficient Appliances

Four states have enacted sales tax holidays in 2022 that are designed to encourage renting, leasing or buying energy-efficient appliances. In Missouri, individual counties have the discretion about whether their merchants participate.

StateDatesWhat is IncludedItemized List
FloridaJuly 1, 2022- June 30, 2023Energy star appliancesQualifying Items
MarylandFeb. 19-21Energy Star appliancesQualifying Items
MissouriApril 19-25Energy Star appliancesQualifying Items
TexasMay 28-30Energy Star appliancesQualifying Items

Severe Weather Preparedness

Three states that are prone to emergencies or disasters enacted sales tax holidays for emergency supplies this year. Qualifying items generally include generators, batteries and various supplies under a designated dollar amount.

StateDatesWhat is IncludedItemized List
AlabamaFeb. 25-27Emergency suppliesQualifying Items
FloridaMay 28-June 10Emergency and pet evacuation suppliesQualifying Items
TexasApril 23-25Emergency suppliesQualifying Items

Other Forms of Sales Tax Holidays

StateDatesWhat is IncludedItemized List
ConnecticutApril 10-16Clothing and footwearQualifying Items
FloridaJuly 1-7Freedom Week salesQualifying Items
FloridaSept. 3-9Skilled worker toolsQualifying Items
FloridaOct. 1-31Motor fuelQualifying Items
Massachusetts  Aug. 13-14Annual holidayQualifying Items
MississippiAug. 26-28Second Amendment holidayQualifying Items
NevadaOct. 28-30National Guard members pay no sales taxQualifying Items
TennesseeAug. 1-31GroceriesQualifying Items

Costs and Benefits

Tax holidays can have a direct impact on consumers. The timing of consumer spending is often responsive to tax holidays, according to the Federal Reserve. A Massachusetts study found that sales tax holidays boost sales during the entire month of the holiday. According to economic analysts, consumers with higher income take advantage of sales tax holidays more than lower-income consumers. However, whether the holidays contribute to long-term economic activity depends on additional various internal and external factors.

Additional Resources:

2022 Sales Tax Holidays: https://news.bloombergtax.com/tax-insights-and-commentary/some-states-are-offering-sales-tax-holidays-for-shoppers-in-2022

Sales Tax Holiday History: https://itep.org/sales-tax-holidays-an-ineffective-alternative-to-real-sales-tax-reform-2021/