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The US Treasury has made ‘promoting racial equity’ a ‘central principle’ in its decision-making on spending billions of dollars in state and local aid from the 2021 US Bailout Act (ARP) of President Biden.
After Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in March 2021, $350 billion was allocated in state and local relief managed by the US Treasury Department.
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Two months after the plan took effect, the Treasury issued interim rules on how the funds should be spent, saying it was “targeting aid” to low-income areas to deal with the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic, which he said was “online”. with Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Racial Equity, which he signed upon taking office.
In September, the Treasury released a report titled “The US Bailout: Centering Racial Equity in Policymaking.” The Treasury said in the report that it “has made the promotion of racial equity a central principle in its decision-making about how these funds may be spent” at the state and local levels, and that “when state and local governments report on how they have used these funds, the Treasury will ask them to discuss how their spending has advanced equity, to promote accountability for this critical goal. .
“The U.S. bailout and the Treasury’s approach to implementing it have made racial equity a top priority,” the report said. “We’re already starting to see progress on this front, from equity-focused investments by states and local governments to supporting tenants from communities of color who will be able to stay in their homes.”
In February of this year, the Treasury released its “Guide to Recipient Compliance and Reporting Responsibilities”, which requires jurisdictions to “describe efforts to promote equitable outcomes, including how programs were designed with fairness in mind”.
An example of how these rules have played out comes from Baltimore, Maryland, which received $641 million in COVID-19 relief from the US bailout.
In September 2021, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s Office of Recovery Programs released a fact sheet for organizations seeking relief funds, stating that all applicants must establish an “equity framework.” to be taken into account.
“Equity should be a central principle of all proposed projects,” the document states. “Organizations must embed an equity framework from planning to implementation for all projects.”
A performance report released by the city the same month revealed that proposals would be evaluated against seven different criteria, with fairness given the most weight on a 100-point scoring grid. According to the report, fairness is worth 20 points, while criteria such as “clearly describing the intentions of the project and the resulting benefits”, and identifying and analyzing “public risk” only count for 15 points.
“Fairness is the scoring criterion that carries the most weight among the seven total criteria for evaluating proposals,” the report states. “All proposals must answer the question: ‘How will this project integrate and advance equity?'”
“All applications must include an equity impact assessment,” it continues, adding that “all applications must include a performance measurement plan, which asks applicants to specifically indicate whether data can be disaggregated by race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, income, religion, affiliation and other characteristics.”
The city explained that its focus on racial and socioeconomic equity is driven not only by Biden’s executive order and Treasury rules, “but also by the structural and historical challenges still evident in the city.”
Shamiah Kerney, collection officer and director of the mayor’s collection programs office, cited the Treasury’s final rule on collection funds, which was released in January, in a response to Fox News Digital.
“The U.S. Treasury Department explicitly states that the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLRFF): “ensures that state, local, and tribal governments have the resources necessary to fight the pandemic, support and strengthen economic recovery, maintain vital public services, and make investments that support long-term growth, opportunity, and equity,” Kerney wrote.
“It is no secret that the COVID-19 public health emergency is having a disproportionate impact on the health and well-being of black and brown communities and, in accordance with federal guidelines, Mayor Scott has given himself a clear priority to correct these inequitable consequences by making targeted investments for equitable outcomes,” she wrote.
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The US Treasury did not immediately return Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
The American Rescue Plan Act, which Democrats passed without any Republican support, has come under increasing scrutiny for its effect on the US economy after inflation rose 8.5 % last month. Some economists, including former Obama administration economic advisers, have blamed the $1.9 COVID-19 relief package for overheating the economy.