The COVID-19 relief package under consideration in Congress is coming into sharper focus this week as legislative committees hash out details, and New Hampshire could receive a total of $1.57 billion.
That’s over $300 million more than the $1.25 billion New Hampshire received from the CARES Act federal relief bill signed in March 2020. But unlike the CARES Act, some of the money will go directly to towns, cities and counties, and the money could be used to make up for pandemic-related budget shortfalls.
Out of the $1.57 billion total, the state will have control of just under $1 billion. The rest would be distributed among cities, towns and counties.
As the bill stands now, Rep. Annie Kuster’s office said, every state is getting a base grant of $500 million, with more money based on the number of unemployed workers in each state.
New Hampshire’s share of the bill as it stands now would be $966 million — an amount about 7% of the $13.8 billion budget Gov. Chris Sununu proposed Thursday.
Cities, towns and counties in New Hampshire would share $559 million from the new relief package.
The funding to cities, towns and counties is to come from a few different pots of money, including a pool for cities over 50,000 people, another for cities and towns with fewer than 50,000 people, and funding for counties.
Some of the money will be distributed by population, and another pool will be distributed by a formula that also takes into account poverty and old or crowded housing.
States and local governments would be allowed to use the funding to make up revenue lost and delayed because of the pandemic. Sununu projected a $50 million deficit at the end of the current budget biennium, due in large part to pandemic-related losses.
The CARES Act did not allow this “backfilling” of state and city budgets, but Sununu and New Hampshire’s delegation spent much of 2020 advocating for a rule change that would allow CARES Act funds to be used to make up for revenue lost to COVID-19.
Committees in the House are this week detailing the way representatives want to see money distributed and spent, according to a statement from the House Budget Committee Chair Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.).
Next week, the budget committee of the House will get the bill ready for consideration in the House.