Friday, March 25, 2022

Wouldn't this money be better used in the taxpayer budget?

nstead of spending money for projects related to the coronavirus pandemic, several state lawmakers used federal coronavirus pandemic relief funds on things not remotely tied to COVID-19, according to a new report from the Associated Press. The report claims that states spent the COVID-19 relief funds on hotels, baseball stadiums, and ski slopes. 

high-end 29-story hotel with 800 rooms in Florida that will have views of the Atlantic Ocean and an 11,000 square-foot spa was provided with $140 million by officials in Broward County.`

The Hudson Valley Renegades – the High-A minor league baseball team affiliated with the New York Yankees – received $12 million in local government funds for renovations on their stadium in Dutchess County, New York. 

In Massachusetts, lawmakers supplied $5 million to pay off the debts of the struggling Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston – a nonprofit civic engagement and educational institution honoring the late senator. The Edward Kennedy Institute operated at a $27 million loss between 2015 and 2019, according to tax filings.

New Jersey used $15 million for upgrades to bolster the state's bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

Officials in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, signed off on spending $53,000 to remodel the town's city hall.

The Associated Press noted, "But with permissive Treasury Department rules governing how the pandemic money can be spent, state and local governments face few limitations."

Liz Bourgeois – a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department – said the program was a success in enabling state and local governments to "recover from financial distress."

“Ultimately local governments are accountable to their communities on their decisions on how best to use their funds,” Bourgeois said in a statement.

Mark Ritacco – director of government affairs for the National Association of Counties – argued, "Counties should be able to determine what’s best for them. Their residents will decide whether that was appropriate or not at the ballot box."

The American Rescue Plan provided money to state and local governments to save jobs, open schools, and increase COVID-19 vaccinations during the pandemic. 

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) warned in March 2021 that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is an "orgy of pork," chock-full of spending that is unrelated to COVID-19 pandemic relief. The coronavirus relief bill presented previously failing union pension plans a whopping $86 billion bailout.

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