Recommendations for Opioid Settlement Spending

By Ishara Nanayakkara

Multiple state, local and tribal governments have pursued litigation against four U.S. pharmaceutical companies alleging corporate responsibility for the severity of the opioid epidemic. In July of 2021, those corporations agreed to pay a total of $26 billion to settle thousands of individual civil lawsuits. This funding is being used to address the crisis in various ways such as revamping old programs and establishing new ones. Many states have also created committees to make recommendations on how these funds should be allocated. A variety of research-based recommendations are available for policymakers to consider, including:

Distributing Naloxone

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recognized Naloxone as one of the most effective strategies for addressing overdoses. Naloxone is a medicine that can swiftly reverse an overdose when administered into a muscle or given intranasally. But it must be readily available to individuals and a standard part of first responder equipment. The demand for Naloxone is rapidly rising but access is still not widespread. This may largely be due to the high cost of the product and the stigma surrounding opioid use. States are taking action to increase access to Naloxone through Opioid Education and Naloxone Distribution programs. As of 2020, at least 23 states had issued standing orders for local pharmacies, allowing individuals to purchase it without a prescription.

Detecting Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. This substance is sometimes laced into other drugs, which can lead to overdose and death for individuals that unknowingly consume it. Researchers at The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University spoke to individuals that use drugs and found that the significant majority were interested in having their drugs checked for fentanyl contamination so that it could be avoided. The researchers tested three drug-checking technologies—BTNX testing strips, the TruNarc Raman spectroscopy machine and the Bruker Alpha machine—for effectiveness. Fentanyl test strips proved to be safe and easy to use. A one-dollar strip works as a pregnancy test does: a test strip is dipped into a cup containing a few grains of the substance dissolved in water. These tests are highly accurate and can detect even tiny amounts of fentanyl—less than one microgram. These tests can also detect other harmful substances, such as acetyl fentanyl, furanyl and carfentanil. Widespread availability and use of test strips could help prevent accidental overdoses due to fentanyl contamination.

Prevention

The causes of opioid addiction varies among individuals, but there are common risk factors such as financial and housing instability, untreated mental health challenges and chronic physical pain. There are multiple policies and programs that can address these risk factors, ranging from providing housing assistance to creating programs to help individuals become involved in the community.

Educating young people is one well researched, evidence-based policy to prevent substance use and abuse. There are several long-term programs focused on children in school, such as Fast Track and the LifeSkills Training Program. These initiatives vary in structure, with some focusing on drug education and others on shaping overall behavior. These programs can start as early as kindergarten and have been found to effectively reduce drug and alcohol use and can even modify aggressive behaviors.

As mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are commonly correlated with substance abuse, programs that address an individual’s mental health can also help prevent drug use. Programs that “help people have better outlooks” have been found to increase the sense of purpose and well-being among people who are vulnerable to depression. In addition to providing employment assistance, increasing volunteering opportunities and access to community activities—such as art projects and library visits—reduces isolation and helps individuals remain occupied, thereby improving their mental health.

State, local and tribal governments can also direct funds toward ensuring racial equity as the rate of overdoses and death have been increasing in Black populations. Black individuals make up 5% of drug users, but they constitute 33% of those in state prisons for drug offenses. Increasing equitable access to treatments including medication can help address the issue.

Resources for Governments

State Initiatives to Combat Human Trafficking: New York

By Matthew George

Human trafficking is a prominent issue in all 50 states. The COVID-19 pandemic coincided with an increase in trafficking victims, escalating from 11,500 situations in 2019 to 16,658 the following year.[i]  Many states have proposed legislation to increase criminal penalties for traffickers and protections and civil remedies for those victimized by trafficking. Some states have taken steps to increase funding provided to survivors, increase public awareness and coordinate efforts across state agencies, including transit agencies.

During state legislative sessions in 2021-22, 944 bills were introduced across the U.S. In New York, 55 bills were introduced with 25 enacted. One of those bills, Assembly Bill 3331, requires law enforcement and district attorney offices to advise human trafficking victims of the availability of social and legal services[ii]. Agencies will offer voluntary services, providing an opportunity to connect victims with program providers. This program amends a bill enacted in 2020 enabling the Survivors of Trafficking Attaining Relief Together (START) Act, providing greater protection for survivors of human trafficking, including clearing records of past convictions resulting from exploitation.[iii] NYN Media reports over 100 organizations in support of the bill, additionally reporting that “race, poverty, gender identity, sexual orientation, and immigration status” contribute to those criminalized by traffickers. Additionally, criminal records worsen barriers to “housing, education, employment, childcare, and healthcare.” [iv] In a statement from state Senate sponsor Jessica Ramos, she says the bill will increase the “visibility around the structural challenges experienced by trans and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers” and the START Act gives “survivors of trafficking a fresh start,” prompting new opportunities for employment, access to legal remedies and “break cycles of trauma for thousands of survivors” across the state.

In addition, New York policymakers recently introduced two bills designed to improve recognition technology and criminal rights for those engaging in human trafficking. Senate Bill 736 would require all employees of private transportation services to undergo a standardized human-trafficking recognition program established by the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Both departments work in consultation with the Department of Transportation and the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking.[v] The bill is sponsored by Alessandra Biaggi and has bipartisan support in the Assembly and Senate. It was referred to the Social Services Committee January 5, 2022.

Senate Bill 6821 “Directs the commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to establish a sex trafficking awareness and prevention program to provide education and awareness literature and educational materials to all drivers with a commercial motor vehicle license.”[vi] The bill was assigned to the Transportation Committee January 5, 2022.

Senator Persaud, who is Chair of the Senate Social Services Committee of New York State, says “The State of New York continues to have a significantly high number of human trafficking cases reported. S.6821 was drafted to reflect the critical role of New York’s motor vehicle and transport regulators, and the broader transport sector, in combatting trafficking.” New York is an example of how states are attempting to address human trafficking.


[i]    Polaris. (2022, January 11).  Myths, facts, and Statistics. Polaris Project., from https://polarisproject.org/myths-facts-and-statistics/

[ii] NY State Assembly Bill 3331. (2022, January 22). NY State Assembly. Retrieved from https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/A3331

[iii]Willbanks, D. (2021, November 22). New York State becomes a national leader in providing survivors of trafficking real justice. Citizen Action of New York. Retrieved from https://citizenactionny.org/2021/11/16/new-york-state-becomes-a-national-leader-in-providing-survivors-of-trafficking-real-justice/

[iv] Ortega, R. R. (2021, November 18). New law allows human trafficking survivors to clear their records. NYN Media. Retrieved, from https://nynmedia.com/content/new-law-allows-human-trafficking-survivors-clear-their-records

[v] NY State Senate Bill 736. (2022, January 6). NY State Senate. Retrieved from https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S736

[vi] NY State Senate Bill 6821. (2022, January 6). NY State Senate. Retrieved from https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S6821

State Governments Can Help Residents Secure Tax Credits

By Dakota Thomas

State governments can play a critical role in helping their residents get the tax credits they are entitled to receive. Those credits can have a substantial impact in the lives of the individuals and families that need them.  Putting more money into the pockets of families also helps state and local economies by creating demand for goods and services.  The federal government is working with states to reach out to potentially eligible tax credit recipients, especially the child tax credit (CTC) and earned-income tax credit (EITC). 

In a webinar hosted by the White House, a panel of speakers representing various stakeholders emphasized the importance of both “first mile” assistance, meaning outreach and educational efforts, as well as follow up assistance once a person begins the process. The first mile generally involves outreach to make people aware of the potential tax credits and helping determine their eligibility.  Several states have experimented with text message campaigns using lists of possibly eligible residents who are using other programs (e.g. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP) and there is preliminary evidence of success with that approach. 

State leaders can direct residents to childtaxcredit.gov to help them find out if they are eligible and how to apply. States can track whether residents are accessing this information portal by using their state’s unique URL based on their state postal abbreviation. For example, Georgia’s is www.ChildTaxCredit.gov/GA and Washington’s is www.ChildTaxCredit.gov/WA. States also can partner with Code for America to get help conducting outreach: https://airtable.com/shrnyXVEar34xYEB0

Once an individual has learned about the tax credits and determined they are eligible, they may still need further assistance.  For example, many Americans do not actually need to file tax returns, but may still be eligible for tax credits.  For “non-filers,” accessing credits is more difficult as they do not interact with the tax system regularly. To help non-filers, the federal government has set up a non-filer portal: https://www.getctc.org/en More information is available from the webinar:

Women’s History Month Profile: Jade Gingerich

By: Jade Gingerich, Elise Gurney, and Dalton Goble

Changing Maryland for the better, especially for people with disabilities, is an ongoing commitment for Jade Gingerich. Jade is the Director of Employment Policy at the Maryland Department of Disabilities. She is also a member of the Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth (CAPE-Youth) National Working Group on Youth Transition, where she engages with other policymakers to discuss and share best practices around supporting youth and young adults with disabilities (Y&YADs) in their transitions to the workforce. In honor of Women’s History Month, Jade sat down for an interview with CAPE-Youth to discuss her leadership in the field of disability employment policy.

Tell us about your career journey and what led you to become the Director of Employment Policy at the Maryland Department of Disabilities.

I met someone who was an actor and ended up volunteering at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, voicing their musicals, and coordinating a social club for young adults with disabilities. [At the same time I was] working and pursuing my master’s degree in Special Education with a specialization in Transition Services.  I was working at the Clearinghouse on Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities when I saw an ad for Executive Director of the Maryland’s Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (GCEPD). GCEPD was part of the Governor’s Office for Individuals with Disabilities which was elevated and became the Maryland Department of Disabilities in 2004, and my position was transitioned into the Director of Employment Policy.

What is your favorite part about working in the disability employment policy field? 

[My favorite parts] are the sheer variety of the work and being able to support emerging leaders, particularly minorities with disabilities. The barriers that exist are many: transportation, education, housing, healthcare, employer engagement and more.  I love the opportunity to collaborate and work across partners for meaningful systems change for all individuals with disabilities. No two days are the same!

What are some of the biggest and most unique obstacles that women with disabilities face?

In addition to the inequalities they face as women in the workplace, women with disabilities have the added layer of misperceptions regarding the skills and abilities of people with disabilities. Moreover, expectations related to gender, such as those regarding childcare and occupational stereotypes, further impede access to education and careers, making women with disabilities more likely to be underemployed.

What has been your biggest career and/or personal achievement?

I am incredibly proud of the theatre company I created and ran for several years for individuals with and without disabilities, in particular the production of the musical “WORKING” by Studs Terkel. It really reflected my personal passion and professional values. In terms of my professional accomplishments, there are many, but of note are co-founding Maryland’s Youth Leadership Forum, co-chairing the workgroup to eliminate subminimum wage in Maryland, and serving as project director for Maryland’s Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) grant, which was a large-scale research initiative to improve the education and employment outcomes of youth and their families that rely on Social Security Income (SSI).

What advice would you give young women about entering the workforce? What advice would you give to women who want to pursue your career? 

The only failed job is one from which nothing has been learned.  Get as much work experience as possible while in high school and college.  Internships are great ways to build your network and your resume. Also understand the difference between being an external advocate who has the freedom to make statements and take any position you want, versus working for the government, where you need to figure out how to make the case and bring well-researched and well-thought-out solutions that satisfy multiple key stakeholders and their limitations, whether by federal law, funding, or other parameters. Don’t expect change to happen fast and be prepared to have to try multiple times, in different ways, before finding the right combination.

What inspires you? 

I’m inspired by youth and their ability to embrace diversity of all kinds, particularly those self-advocates who are speaking up and out with pride, embracing and celebrating all facets of their being.

Jade’s push for progress demonstrates her commitment to honoring and embracing diversity, her collaborative leadership style, and her patience in pursuing complex and slow-moving systems change. Her approach serves as a model not just for women, but for all policymakers involved in disability policy. Much of Jade’s work concerns evidence-based practices to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities across states. For example, Jade’s efforts to remove the various barriers to employment that people with disabilities face – including transportation, housing, and healthcare – align with the “Connecting Activities” component of CAPE-Youth’s evidence-based Guideposts for supporting Y&YADs in their transitions. In addition, her work to eliminate the subminimum wage in Maryland fits into a larger, nationwide movement to promote competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.

Check here to learn more about the Maryland Department of Disabilities’ mission statement and various programs and services.

Next in Line: Kate Cruickshank’s Road to Leadership

By: Kate Cruickshank and Matthew George

Women’s History Month is a time to recognize women’s voices and highlight how their contributions changed communities and influenced their environments, culture and society. [i] Youth leadership has risen to the forefront as more women leaders enter the workforce. To honor Women’s History Month, the Center for Advancing Employment for Youth (CAPE-Youth) interviewed Kate Cruickshank, a third-year student at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Mathematics and Public Health and minoring in Medical Humanities. She also serves as a member of the Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth (CAPE-Youth) working group, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

  1. Tell us about your education and career goals.

“I am a junior at the University of Oklahoma (OU), studying Mathematics and Public Health with a minor in Medical Humanities. My research has included projects looking at students’ perceptions of disabled students and accommodations at the undergraduate level and the experience of disability in undergraduate mathematics education. My career goals are broad, but I am firm in the direction of my profession: disability advocacy. I have long been a staunch proponent of accessibility, but it wasn’t until I myself became disabled that my drive for advocacy was solidified. I intend to enter a dual Juris Doctorate/Masters of Social Work degree program, with the hopes of developing a better understanding of how political and social systems affect individuals. Eventually, I would like to work in public policy, but believe it necessary to first work directly with communities and individuals. Wherever I end up, the ultimate goal for my career is advocacy.”

2. What advice do you have for young women with disabilities as they enter the workforce or postsecondary education?

“Getting acclimated to your university’s culture can feel disorienting for a time, and navigating these new spaces traditionally built for able bodies and minds may add a layer of complexity to your experience. My first and foremost suggestions for young disabled women entering postsecondary education is to get in touch with your disability services office. If you are unable to officially register for disability accommodations due to a lack of documentation, still reach out and ask how they can support you; being denied accommodations because you are unable to receive medical documentation can feel daunting and invalidating, but quite a few professors will be willing to work with you on a case-to-case basis.

Even with official accommodations, you may run into instructors who are disinclined or unaware of how to provide them for you. It is essential that you know what you are legally entitled to under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the protocols that your school has in place for students who run into discrimination such as this. Requesting accommodations, especially with invisible disabilities, can feel like a double-edged sword because of the commonly held stereotypes about disabled students. If I don’t request accommodations in an attempt to avoid these stereotypes, I may have to work harder than my non-disabled counterpart to keep up. On the other hand, when I do ask for accommodations, I feel myself working extra hard to prove that I am not the stereotype—which none of us are, because there is no such thing as ‘normal.’ All and all, you belong, and you deserve to take up space—whatever that space may look like.”

3. What are some of the biggest and most unique obstacles that women with disabilities face?

“Disabled women experience double discrimination. Women’s medical concerns are oftentimes dismissed as existing ‘in their heads,’ effectively disqualifying their own experiences. This, for me, has complicated my feelings around disclosing my disability status; I want to advocate for myself and my needs, but I also don’t want others to perceive me through the lens of my disability. Speaking for myself as a woman in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), I oftentimes feel as if I have to prove that I belong in these majority able bodied male spaces.

Sometimes though, no matter how much effort I put in, my sense of belonging remains the same. Since realizing this, I have stopped exerting my energy trying to fit into these spaces and have instead just begun to show up as myself—easier said than done, I know. Find places where you feel as if you and your knowledge are valued, and until you find those places, unapologetically take up space.”

4. Tell us about an accomplishment you are proud of.

“I recently completed my honors thesis examining the experience of disability in undergraduate mathematics classes with the intent of better understanding how these students understand their disability identities. My study was exploratory in nature, and after analyzing interviews with five disabled students I was able to identify a few factors within the mathematics learning environment that contribute to their disablement.

I was honored to present a poster of my work at the most recent Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (RUME) Conference this past February. There is little research in undergraduate mathematics education that prioritizes the disabled student’s experience, so I am proud that I was able to contribute to the mathematics education community in this way.”

5. What does leadership mean to you?

“A good leader is many things. They are accessible to the ideas and suggestions of others; they are willing to hand over responsibility to others, to delegate and place confidence in their team; they recognize the strengths and weaknesses of others while helping them to grow by supporting them in their endeavors; they allow for mistakes, which fosters a sense of safety and opens space for creative thinking. Above all, leadership demands empathy, honesty, commitment, dependability, and a strong ethical code in order to cultivate a community of care.”


[i] Congress, T. L. of, Administration, N. A. and R., Humanities, N. E. for the Art, N. G. of, Service, N. P., Institution, U. S. S., & Museum, U. S. H. M. (n.d.). Women’s History Month. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://womenshistorymonth.gov/about/

Oversight of ARPA Spending in the States

By Ben Eikey and Dakota Thomas 

The American Rescue Plan Act includes $350 billion in new funding for state, local, territorial and tribal governments through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF). Utilizing this large influx of funds to maximize economic recovery presents both opportunities and challenges for states. Recognizing the desire of policymakers to develop and share best practices, the Council of State Governments conducted an extensive 50 state scan of the allocation of ARPA funds, focused on SLFRF. In November 2021, CSG analysts also compiled state ARPA online resources which were shared in this previous CSG blog. These state websites are updated using federally required state government reports on pandemic-related spending. This transparency enables more public participation in strengthening oversight to ensure prudent use of public resources.   

In a 2019 report on legislative oversight from the Levin Center (a national center with expertise on legislative oversight), legislatures in Alaska, California, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania were determined to be particularly effective in using the budget/appropriations process to conduct oversight of spending. In partnership with the Levin Center, CSG analyzed ARPA reporting websites in these 11 states to assess oversight of the allocation of these federal funds. This article highlights promising state approaches to publishing ARPA spending data online. 

Among these states prioritizing budget/appropriations oversight, Minnesota has gone beyond U.S. Department of the Treasury requirements by posting detailed information on a public website about its use of pandemic relief funds. Updated daily, Minnesota’s tracker promises “checkbook” transparency of all state government spending, including ARPA funds. This approach allows the public and the media to augment oversight efforts by accessing granular information specifying how critically important funds are being used. Public and media access to this information puts more eyes on program spending enabling greater evaluation of efficiency and impact. This in turn can trigger legislative oversight investigations, hearings and reform. To make this external oversight function easily manageable, Minnesota offers a five-minute video on their website explaining how to navigate their system. 

As covered in the 2019 report, the approaches these 11 states take to appropriations oversight highlight various practices in funding transparency. A review of their ARPA websites reveals several pathways for spending itemization as states utilize ARPA funds.  

  • Maryland’s website includes detail on all federal funds including ARPA. Approved funds are broken down by agency name or unit name. Maryland could detail how much of approved funds have been spent in the future using this navigable webpage. 
  • Nevada’s public spending spreadsheet shows line-item grant recipients. Nevada may continue to build this resource with details on how grants will be spent in the future and a link to their state government website for more information on the programs receiving grants.  
  • North Carolina’s website offers information for ARPA funding recipients; infographics detailing the rollout of ARPA funds on topics like drinking water projects and broadband infrastructure; and slides presented to state agencies on navigating ARPA spending. They are set up to share spending details on topics of consistent interest. 

Other states have the opportunity to add more spending detail to make the use of ARPA funding more transparent. CSG and the Levin Center will continue monitoring ARPA spending websites to highlight various transparency approaches.  

This article was written in collaboration with the Levin Center at Wayne State Law School. 

Ben Eikey is the Manager of State Training and Communications for the Levin Center at Wayne State Law School. His specializes in legislative oversight and has traveled across the United States to conduct oversight workshops and panel discussions in state legislatures and with partner organizations like The Council of State Governments. 

Dakota Thomas is a Senior Research Analyst at The Council of State Governments. He helps manage the CSG policy research portfolio, including evidence-based policymaking and fiscal policy analysis. Dakota provides technical assistance to CSG members through the collection and analysis of data and work with academic partners. 

Staff Profile: Elise Gurney, senior policy analyst

Elise Gurney has been around the world on her quest to find meaningful work. She studied economics at Carleton College before finding her way to Washington, D.C. to work as a researcher and consultant.

“I enjoyed the work but wanted to do something more meaningful, so I joined the Peace Corps in June of 2019,” Gurney said. “I served in Malawi as an environment and food security educator, but was unfortunately evacuated after nine months due to COVID-19.”

She moved to Kentucky and was excited to join the staff at The Council of State Governments.

“Coming back from the Peace Corps, I realized that I could combine my research skills with my desire to make a meaningful and productive contribution,” she said. “CSG ended up being the perfect fit for that. I was also excited to work in the policy space, and to come to a new-to-me state.”

At CSG, Gurney works as a senior policy analyst on the education and workforce team. In this role, she develops and implements policies centered around disability employment, telework, apprenticeships and more.

“My role entails everything from writing policy briefs on specific topic areas — such as how to address the mental health needs of workers amid and following the COVID-19 pandemic — to completing research requests for states to organizing webinars on different topics,” she said.

When she is not working, Gurney enjoys playing guitar, trying to keep her pet rabbit from eating everything in her apartment and taking dance classes.

She enjoys working with the talented team at CSG.

“Everyone is smart and dedicated, but also has interests and passions outside of the office. I also appreciate the opportunity to work with smart, dedicated policymakers; they always inspire me to do more,” she said.              

CSG Staff Profile: Dexter Horne

Dexter Horne is the kind of person who will find solutions. When he meets an obstacle, he takes his passion for helping others and turns it into action. This is evident in his role as a senior policy analyst at The Council of State Governments.

“I wanted to work for CSG because I wanted the opportunity to dive deep into the big challenges of our time and attempt to find ways to overcome them,” he said. “CSG allows me to do that. This job combines my passion for service with my desire to continually learn new things. It’s a good fit for me.”

Horne is a graduate of Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kentucky’s Martin School of Public Policy and Administration.

“In my day-to-day work, I provide research and logistics support to CSG’s Healthy States National Task force which includes state leaders from across the three branches of government in all 50 states and six territories,” Horne said. “For me, key project tasks include conducting or assisting with data analysis, developing and conducting national scans of state policy, responding to research inquiries from state officials (and) writing research-based State Leader Policy Guides.”


Horne also works with project managers on convening partners and task force members together to discover best practices in civic health, economic and workforce health, fiscal health and human health.

Horne, a lover of doughnuts, is involved in his local community.

“A civic engagement enthusiast, I spend a lot of my time helping lead the Kentucky chapter of a nonprofit called the New Leaders Council (NLC),” he said. “Our mission is to connect and train young, progressive thought leaders across the state. As do-director, I manage a 17-member board and am responsible for ensuring that our work is aligned with our mission and values.”

Horne said his dream would be to a community organizer who could eliminate poverty.

“Were there no obstacles to me doing so, I would be an author and a philanthropist investing in grassroot efforts to eliminate poverty and homelessness in communities across the United States. I would create a fund, and actively campaign for others to invest in a fund, that would exist purely to support experiments in poverty and homelessness reduction, designed in part by people who have experienced one or the other,” he said.

Horne said his favorite part of working at CSG is being able to build relationships.

“Beyond the chance to continually learn more about the inner workings of government, policy and communities, I enjoy working with public servants who really care about their state and the people they serve. I’m often reminded in this job that there are a lot of people in the country who are working to make it better. I find that encouraging,” he said.

Transparency of Transformation: States Implement American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Websites

By Rachel Dietert 

Links to state ARPA Websites

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Compliance and Reporting Guidance requires states, territories, metropolitan cities, counties, Tribal governments and non-entitlement units to meet certain compliance and reporting responsibilities regarding how they use and distribute Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Entities other than non-entitlement units are required to submit an Interim Report, which contains obligations and expenditures. All recipients are required to submit Project and Expenditure Reports either quarterly or annually, with information and updates on the projects being funded. Finally, states, territories, metropolitan cities and counties with a population of over 250,000 must create a Recovery Plan Performance Report detailing how programs that use funding are achieving their goals in an effective, efficient and equitable manner. One way states are meeting these requirements is by creating specific websites related to Federal Coronavirus Relief with special attention to American Rescue Plan websites to provide resources, track utilization of funding or both.  

CSG analysts have compiled state ARP online resources and found that 44 states have some form of American Rescue Plan website, and one state makes an ARP resource PDF document available online. Forty-three states already have submitted their required 2021 Recovery Plan Performance Reports to the Treasury. These reports include information on Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund utilization and can be found here. However, a few states have been given extensions and others have not drawn down funds, so they are not required to report until 60 days post receipts.  

Many legislatures are still in the process of appropriating funds, and as a result, most states are still working to make their ARP fund utilization available for tracking. All 45 state websites currently available provide ARP guidance and resources for their constituents; 16 track state utilization of discretionary Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds; and 18 include planned payment allocation or payment tracking for non-entitlement units. Some particularly innovative, detailed, interactive and visual tracking websites for ARP funding were developed by Hawaii, Missouri and Washington.  

Hawaii 

Hawaii’s website for tracking ARP funds is especially interesting because it is a partnership between the public and private sector. For this website, the Hawaii Data Collective — a private firm — worked with the Hawaii Office of Federal Awards Management, the House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness, the Department of Budget and Finance, the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism and all of Hawaii’s counties. The website utilizes Tableau, a data visualization software, to show where the funds were spent and for what purpose. Viewers can learn more about the policy category funded, the city and county where funds were spent and the remaining funds available. The viewer also can find the dataset the visualizations use at the bottom of the page. Hawaii’s website can be found here

Figure 1. Example graph displaying Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds on Hawaii’s American Rescue Plan Act webpage 

Missouri

Missouri’s website has four different charts breaking down expenditures related to COVID-19 by fund, vendor, agency or object code. This website is interactive — when the viewer clicks any visualization, the rest of the visualizations change according to the viewer’s preference for information. This is especially helpful in learning, for example, which agency used which vendor(s).

Figure 2. Example of the visuals that Missouri’s website provides on COVID-19 Related Expenditures

Washington

Washington’s website is easy to understand and navigate. It allows the viewer to filter federal funds for pandemic relief by agency name, policy category and fund title. The viewer can first narrow funding to just view the ARP-related spending and then filter by category to see, for example, how much ARP funding went to economic support verses health care. Washington’s website also allows for comparison of funding allocations based on agency name or category.

Figure 3. Example graphs on the Washington’s Office of Financial Management Website regarding Covid-19 response funding

See the list below for all state American Rescue Plan resource websites compiled by CSG analysts. The Council of State Governments will continue to update this list as states develop and revise websites.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Broadband Affordability and Infrastructure

By Ben Reynolds

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act1 — also referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package — passed the House on Nov. 5. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it today, Monday, Nov. 15. The bill contains $1.2 trillion in funding ($550 billion of which is new spending) for various infrastructure purposes, including roads and bridges, broadband, drinking water resources, airports, electrical vehicles and more. In this brief, analysts at The Council of State Governments break down the $65 billion in funding for broadband expansion and access.

Funding Breakdown

  • Establishing the Broadband Equity, Access, and Development Program to be administered by National Telecommunications and Information Administration to states through matching grants – $42.5 billion.
  • Investing in and making permanent the Affordable Connectivity Program (formally known as the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program administered by the Federal Communications Commission) to provide a monthly subsidy for low-income families purchasing internet service, with higher subsidies for qualifying families in high-cost areas and households participating in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program – $14.2 billion.
  • Investing in the Digital Equity Act Competitive Grant Programs administered by the Department of Commerce – $2.75 billion.
    • State Capacity Grant Program for state efforts to achieve digital equity and inclusion.
    • Digital Equity Act Competitive Grant Programs (from Competitive Grant Program funds) focused on senior citizens, veterans, minorities and individuals with a language barrier – $250 million.
  • Investing in Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program – $2 billion.
  • Investing in Middle Mile Grants – National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant program for the construction, improvement or acquisition of infrastructure (prioritizing underserved areas and requiring buildout to be completed within five years of the grant being made) – $1 billion.

Broadband Equity, Access, and Development Program

NTIA will allocate the $42.5 billion of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Development Program three ways:

  1. Minimum of $100 million funding to each state, with an additional $100 million to be allocated equally among U.S. territories
  2. Allocates approximately $4.35 billion for broadband projects to underserved locations in high-cost areas. Eligible areas will be determined by NTIA based on a formula defined in the bill (e.g., remoteness, population density, poverty, etc.)
  3. Approximately $32.2 billion will be allocated for broadband projects in unserved locations.

The Broadband Equity, Access and Development Program is to be established no later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. States that wish to participate in the program are to submit a letter of intent, initial proposal and final proposal. Once the NTIA allocates the grants, each state is responsible for submitting a five-year action plan that addresses the areas eligible and the proposed solutions. States can award subgrants to cooperatives, nonprofit organizations, public‐private partnerships, private companies, public or private utilities, public utility districts or local governments.

A matching contribution of at least 25% of the project costs must be provided by a state or its subgrantee. The state match generally has to be from non-federal funds, though some federal sources are explicitly permitted in the bill.

States are required to prioritize unserved service projects until the state can determine universal coverage of all unserved locations. States also must prioritize projects based on additional factors: poverty, speed of proposed services and compliance with federal labor and employment laws.

Sources and Resources