by Donna Martinez
Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
In case you’re wondering what’s happened with all the money appropriated to public schools through the federal ‘relief’ bills, you’re not alone. Writing for North State Journal, Locke’s Bob Luebke has the numbers as well as a few thoughts on whether we really need all this cash.
North Carolina schools have already received close to $2 billion in federal stimulus money from two previous federal relief bills. Not to mention, North Carolina is already sitting on a lot of cash. According to government documents, North Carolina still has not spent about $254 million of the $3.6 billion it received from Congress for coronavirus relief. On top of that, the Office of State Controller reported North Carolina’s unreserved fund balance sat at $5.4 billion in February.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reported that our nation’s schools have spent only a fraction of the $67.5 billion that was allocated in the first two coronavirus relief bills. As a result, CBO is estimating that only $6.4 billion of the $130 billion new education piece of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) will actually be spent in 2021. Furthermore, CBO estimates that the remainder of the education spending will be divided out over the next seven years. That means only about 5% of the $130 billion in coronavirus aid to public schools will be spent this year.
Why is money flowing so freely? Is it really an emergency? Bob talked about it with Locke’s Mitch Kokai.