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Courtney: State could get more than $4 billion if Congress passes COVID-19 relief package

Connecticut could receive more than $4 billion in federal coronavirus aid if Congress passes President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The estimate comes from projections released this week by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, on the amount of money that could be coming to the state and local towns as a result of Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

An estimated $2.7 billion would be allotted to the state and $1.6 billion to cities and towns, Courtney said.

“We’re at a point right now where the mistake would be to go too small and not big enough in terms of the recovery from the recession,” he said.

While it took months for federal lawmakers to ultimately pass the latest round of coronavirus aid in December, Courtney said Biden’s plan is moving quickly through Congress with the House slated to vote on it next Friday.

Courtney said Democrats see mid-March as the deadline for Congress to pass the legislation given that’s when federal unemployment benefits run out.

Local governments in eastern Connecticut could receive at least $167 million to replenish their coffers, which have been depleted by the pandemic, due to loss of tax revenue. The estimate is based on the current version of the bill in the House and could change.

Local municipalities could receive additional money through funding set aside in the bill for counties. Connecticut does not have a county government system, so the estimated $52 million that could be coming to New London County would be divided among multiple cities and towns in the county.

Norwich and New London would each receive $20 million, given their designations as “entitlement communities,” broadly defined as cities with populations of 50,000 or greater, or urban counties of 200,000, through the Community Development Block Grant.

All other towns in the region would share $127 million in “non-entitlement” funds, a news release from Courtney’s office says.

The bill requires funds to be used to respond to or mitigate the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, cover costs incurred as a result of such emergency, replace revenue that was lost, delayed, or decreased as a result of such emergency; or address the negative economic impacts of such emergency, the news release says.

Local officials have asked for more flexibility in how they spend the money and how long they have to spend it, and the bill, in its current form, addresses those requests, Courtney said. 

There’s no deadline for when the funds have to be expended, and the bill directs states to distribute local aid within 30 days of receiving it from the U.S. Treasury Department.

j.bergman@theday.com

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