by Rick Henderson
Editor-in-Chief, Carolina Journal
House members are seeking to give state and local governments a budget break from the fiscal straitjacket put on them in the federal COVID-19 relief bills. The John Locke Foundation played a big role in pushing this help.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, joined by four Republicans and five Democrats, has introduced H.R. 6652 ‘‘Flexibility for Localities and Eligibility Expansion Act of 2020,’’ aka the FLEX Act.
It lets state and local governments use money in the various federal COVID-19 relief laws, including the CARES Act, to replace tax money that never arrived because of the COVID-related economic crash. These federal laws forced states to use the relief money only for new spending related to the pandemic.
The bill came after a letter sent April 13 to congressional leaders by John Locke Foundation CEO Amy Cooke and Jim Vokal, CEO of the Platte Institute of Nebraska, asking the majority and minority leaders of both houses of Congress to provide local relief from limits in the CARES package.
Since Cooke and Vokal sent the letter, CEOs of 27 other state-based free-market think tanks around the country have signed on.
The COVID-19 package passed last week by the General Assembly and signed into law Monday by Gov. Roy Cooper sets aside about $470 million to backfill state and local agency budgets if Congress allows it.
The ball is in Washington’s court.