The American Rescue Plan (ARP) gives Texas policymakers an opportunity to invest in an equitable recovery plan for Texans of all backgrounds. Texans are working hard to ensure their families have the resources they need to thrive. However, many lack financial stability and adequate health care as a result of our state’s public policies, including in particular the decision not to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted Texans in many ways, especially Texans of color. Systemic racism limits job opportunities for Black and Hispanic Texans (for example, residential segregation disproportionately distances people of color from job centers) so that they were more likely than white Texans to experience unemployment before the pandemic. The pandemic only worsened these disparities.
With the new ARP funds, it is crucial that state and local lawmakers equitably invest in an antiracist recovery plan that will benefit Texans of all backgrounds. Local recovery plans should center on authentic, equitable community engagement with the communities that have been most affected by the pandemic, such as people of color, families, and essential workers. At Every Texan, we believe state and local officials must be intentional about including these communities in planning equitable recovery efforts. Our ARP Toolkit for Texas Cities and Counties features resources to help Texas localities make community-driven, data-informed decisions for an equitable recovery. Our toolkit features information and resources on:
- ARP fund allocations;
- Examples of how ARP funds have been used;
- Guidance on community engagement Principles for an equitable response to COVID-19;
- And more.
The ARP provides an opportunity to give relief to Texans who have been most impacted by the pandemic. The experiences and voices of affected Texans are critical in understanding the needs of the community. It is important that leaders commit to engaging communities and leading a robust stakeholder process to inform a plan for equitable distribution of ARP funds. The plan extends current unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility, provides emergency aid to pay back rent, increases the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, increases the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers, gives families an additional tax credit to help cut childcare costs, and more.
ARP funds can be used to:
- Support public health response;
- Assist workers and families;
- Support small businesses;
- Provide premium pay for essential workers;
- Improve water and sewer infrastructure;
- Advance broadband infrastructure;
- And more.
According to the Texas Comptroller, Texas will receive over $15.8 billion from the ARP, with $1.4 billion going directly to smaller cities and counties, $3.4 billion going to major cities, and $5.7 billion going to major counties. The remaining funds will be divided between the coronavirus capital projects fund, education, health, human services, labor, housing, disaster relief, business assistance, and Medicaid. Local and tribal governments will be able to use the funds to respond to the negative impacts of the pandemic in a way that best fits the needs of their communities.
Learn more about how Every Texan can help you make equitable, data-informed decisions here.
Read more about our general policy recommendations for an equitable economic recovery here.