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Nation’s Special Districts Support Transit, Disaster Use of ARPA Recovery Funds

 November 4, 2021 | Cole Karr

The National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC) expressed Thursday support to House Leadership for legislation that would expand the use of state and local government recovery funds to include transit infrastructure and response to natural disasters.

The two bipartisan bills – S. 3011 (Cornyn) and H.R. 5735 (Johnson, S.D.), State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act – would allow the greater of $10 million or 30 percent of a governments Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CSLFRF) to be used on at least 20 categories of surface transportation infrastructure and the Community Development Block Grant. The legislation would also allow CSLFRF monies to provide emergency relief from natural disasters or a variety of disasters’ economic impacts.

Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced the Senate version of the bill on October 19 and was passed the same day on unanimous consent. Congressman Dusty Johnson’s, R-S.D., House bill was introduced October 26 and awaits action in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

NSDC urged in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to expeditiously consider the legislation on the House Floor and outlined the significance the policy, if successful, would have on the nation’s special districts. This, considering special districts provide 60 percent of all public transit services and as natural disasters continue to impact all corners of the country.

The CSLFLF authorizes, but does not mandate, states, counties, and cities to transfer portions of their Fund allocations to assist with ongoing special districts’ COVID impacts. Many districts have reported to NSDC state members of their ongoing struggle to access this critical source of funds. The Coalition addressed this concern in the letter to leadership.

“Special districts would greatly benefit from the expansion of CSLFRF – but only if states, counties, and cities exercise their authority to transfer CSLFRF monies for these purposes,” the Coalition wrote. “While special districts currently do not have direct access to receiving CSLFRF funds, state and local governments have the authority to transfer relief and recovery funds to special districts. The Coalition continues to work with special districts to advocate for funding access and stands ready to collaborate with state and local governments to ensure all COVID-impacted units of government receive much-needed access to critical relief funds.”

NSDC supports special districts’ access to CSLFLF at the state and local levels. Contact Cole Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Coordinator, for more details and questions.

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