Heading into 2020, things looked pretty good for state and local government. The economy was strong, money was flowing and many budgets had healthy reserves built up.
Then COVID-19 came and sent the economy careening into a sudden recession. Now, many states are beginning to revise their budget estimates and brace for sharp drops in revenue that leave them looking for ways to fund programs and services.
Exactly what they do, what will get cut and by how much remains to be seen. But Congress has already stepped in with some emergency funding in the form of the CARES Act, passed toward the end of March, which will send $150 billion to state and local governments, as well as tribes and territories. The legislation specifies that the money is only to be used for "necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency."
The funding will be distributed proportionally to population, and some will be set aside for local governments — cities and counties — with populations larger than 500,000.
More money is available for a wide array of specific work such as telehealth, education and election security.
Here's a map showing how the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the funds will be distributed, along with local government allocations: