Rep. Estes Urges State to Distribute Funds to Localities
WASHINGTON – Congressman Ron Estes (R-Kansas) called on the Kelly administration Wednesday to disburse federal funds intended for cities, counties and other entities after a report showed Kansas is one of 32 states still withholding most of those dollars.
"Kansas communities have been negatively impacted by COVID-19-related health and economic challenges, which is why Congress and the federal government have provided much-needed relief for states, localities, workers, small businesses and families," said Rep. Estes. "The state of Kansas has received $1.25 billion in direct funding from the CARES Act's Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for state, territorial, local, and tribal governments. I am very concerned that data compiled by the National League of Cities indicates that Kansas is withholding CRF funds from local governments. For months, my staff and I have communicated with the governor's office on behalf of hardworking Kansans and our local governments. The legislative intent of the CARES Act was to provide timely and targeted relief, but sitting on these funds in Topeka does not help the communities scattered throughout the Sunflower State, especially those in rural areas."
The National League of Cities reported this week that "thirty-two states are withholding funding from most municipal governments, including all small and rural municipalities, with no indication when, or if, funds will ever be made available."
Congress has appropriated more than $3.6 trillion in the four COVID-19 relief packages, directing relief to individuals, businesses, and direct support for the state of Kansas. Guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department makes clear that states can and should pass money on to local governments. The U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) issued detailed guidance on April 22, 2020, and provided a seven-page Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document on May 4, 2020, regarding how these funds may be spent.
Through legislation already passed in Congress, the state of Kansas has received $1.25 billion specifically for state, territorial, local and tribal governments. Kansans have also received $1,980,223,913 in Economic Impact Payments as of May 8. During the first and second rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $5,162,470,043 has been approved for 47,351 Kansas small businesses in the form of forgivable loans as of May 8. The Joint Economic Committee estimates that 427,000 Kansans will be able to keep their jobs due to PPP. On March 27, Unemployment Insurance (UI) was increased by $600 a week and eligibility was extended to self-employed individuals. Additionally, hospitals received $325 million in aid, community health centers received $15 million in grants, the state of Kansas received $81 million for testing, public universities received $49 million from the Higher Education Relief Fund, the Kansas Department of Labor (KSDOL) received $9.5 million for administrative costs, and Medicaid funding to Kansas was increased by $220 million. Additional funding continues to be awarded to Kansas through Department of Health and Human Services grants, Department of Housing and Urban Development grants, Department of Justice grants, Department of Transportation grants, Department of Agriculture programs, and more.
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.