American Schools Have Spent Just Seven Percent of Latest COVID Relief Funds

Over one year after the United States Congress passed the “American Rescue Plan,” the vast majority of school districts that were awarded relief funds have spent less than ten percent of that money.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, approximately $122 billion of the overall $1.9 trillion bill was designated for school districts that were determined to be in distress and in need of relief funds. But of that $122 billion, only about 7 percent has been spent in total across all the school districts nationwide that received some handouts.

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Minnesota Spending COVID Relief Funds on ‘Anti-Bias’ Training for Teachers

Minnesota is spending untold millions in COVID-relief funds on controversial education initiatives, like implementing ethnic studies in schools and recruiting teachers on the basis of race.

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package included $122 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Minnesota received a total of $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funds, $1.3 billion of which came from ESSER.

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States See Revenue Surge from Income Tax, Federal Aid

Woman with $100 bills spread open in hands

Numerous states have seen their state revenue surge in 2021 fueled by a robust stock market, growing income, federal aid, and increased tax revenue, The Wall Street Journal reported.

States’ revenue soared 24% between April and November from 2020 to 2021, according to a survey conducted by the Urban Institute think tank, the WSJ reported. Thirty-two states said the revenue collected in the fiscal year ending in 2022 was ahead of expectations, according to data from the National Association of State Budget Officers obtained by the WSJ.

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Missouri Education Department Asks for $2.1 Billion in Federal Pandemic Funds

Out of dozens of lines showing millions of dollars for Missouri’s supplemental budget, one sticks out in House Bill 3014.

There are 25 lines, each representing a department or office in Missouri government, requesting a 5.5% cost of living adjustment for all state employees. Gov. Mike Parson announced the increases and a base pay of $15 per hour in December.

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Two Florida Men Plead Guilty to $35 Million COVID Relief Scam

Two South Florida men have pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud the federal government of $35 million worth of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and funded by federal coronavirus relief money.

James R. Stote, 55, of Hollywood and Phillip J. Augustin, 52, of Coral Springs pleaded guilty this week in the Northern District of Ohio for leading a scheme that stretched from Florida to Ohio, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced. The two pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and each faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Georgia’s COVID Relief Spending Transparency Among the Country’s Best: Report

Georgia was one of six states classified as having exemplary disclosure of its Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending, according to a new report on transparency in CRF spending.

The CRF was established from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The act was signed into law by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 and gave states a total of $111.8 billion to cover COVID-19-related costs.

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Minnesota Has Room to Improve Its Disclosure of COVID Relief Funds, Report Says

Minnesota neither is an “exemplary state” at disclosing CARES Act assistance spending nor a state that has “inadequate or no disclosure,” a new report from national policy resource center Good Jobs First says.

Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wyoming provide a clear picture of how they spend Coronavirus Relief Fund monies, earning them designation as having “exemplary disclosure,” the report said.

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Report: More Than Half of Federal School COVID Relief Funds Used for Non-Pandemic Purposes

This week’s Golden Horseshoe Award goes to the U.S. Department of Education for approving pandemic relief spending plans by school districts that include millions for upgrading athletic facilities, installing security cameras, purchasing floor shiners and other non-pandemic related projects.

Approximately $190 billion in pandemic funding under both the Trump and Biden administrations was allocated to schools to safely reopen and protect teachers and students.

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Tennessee Officials to Allocate COVID-Relief Funds to Increase Internet Access in Underserved Regions

Crystal Ivey, broadband director at Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD), said Wednesday that $500 million in taxpayer money bestowed upon Tennessee in the latest round of federal COVID-19 relief will go toward broadband expansion.

ECD officials and Governor Bill Lee (R) have stressed the heightened importance of telecommuting, e-commerce, telemedicine and distance learning after the pandemic hit.

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Michigan Projects Multibillion-Dollar Budget Surplus

Michigan State Capitol

Michigan budget officials Friday reached a consensus on revised economic and revenue figures for fiscal years 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The state general fund and school aid revenues will total $26.5 billion for the current budget year, exceeding January estimates by $2.2 billion. For the new budget cycle beginning Oct. 1, the agency projected revenues will total $26.6 billion, $1.3 billion more than January predictions.

A majority of that unexpected cash is a byproduct of billions of spending via stimulus checks and boosted unemployment benefits, which led to a spike in personal spending and increased state tax revenues by billions more than previously forecast.

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