Updates from the NGA Membership Team for March 2022. For more about the programs below and a list of upcoming events please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governors were quick to condemn Russia’s invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine and quick to support the Ukrainian people, who inspired the world with their courage and determination.
As practical problem solvers, Governors first began issuing statements and speaking at rallies and attending vigils and church services. They reached out to support the Ukrainian diaspora and Eastern European communities in their states and territories. There have been days of solidarity and prayer for Ukraine. Across the country, bridges, towers, state capitols and Governors’ mansions have been lit in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
Governors immediately began banning the sale of Russian products. They severed ties with sister cities and reviewed state investments and contracts to eliminate any financial support for the Russian regime. They teamed up with charitable organizations to send humanitarian aid. Working with local law enforcement, Governors are sending available body armor. Many Governors have said that their states will welcome Ukrainian refugees, and social services organizations are preparing.
NGA stands ready to support the efforts of state governments as Governors tackle these new challenges.
State Funds Protected in Spending Package
After nearly five and a half months of continuing resolutions, Congress has finally come to an agreement on the fiscal 2022 budget. The bipartisan measure is expected to be signed by President Biden as early as today.
On March 9, the House passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government open. There was a compromise on spending preferences in the agreement, which provides $782 billion for defense-related accounts and $730 billion for nondefense. Using a process known as “dividing the question,” the House held two votes on the omnibus. The separately passed pieces were rejoined in a single package before the measure was sent to the Senate. The measure was adopted with a 361 to 69 vote for Divisions B, C, F, X, and Z, and Titles 2 and 3 of Division N. The remaining matter was adopted on a bipartisan 260 to 171 vote.
The Senate followed on Thursday, March 10th passing the omnibus with a 69 to 31 vote. The 2,741-page legislation contains 12 fiscal 2022 spending bills, $13.6 billion in supplemental appropriations to address the crisis in Ukraine, and a lengthy list of other measures.
A manager’s amendment from House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro removed the section that would have provided $15.6 billion in federal COVID-19 aid after successful advocacy efforts by Governors led Congress to remove a provision offsetting those costs that would have rescinded state and local aid funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. NGA Chairman Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Vice Chairman New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy sent an urgent letter to Congressional leadership requesting that lawmakers safeguard the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund during the final negotiations of the fiscal year 2022 spending package.
After internal debate in the House, members agreed to abandon the plan to rescind state funds already appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act, and that decision carried through in the legislation approved by the Senate.
In addition, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted into law last November, will be fully funded after months of delay. New programs will be allowed to get off the ground and increased funding levels for this fiscal year authorized by the law would be able to be deployed under the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development spending portion of the package.
COVID-19 Emergency Supplemental Legislation
The House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro introduced a stand-alone $15.6 billion COVID-19 emergency supplemental funding bill, H.R. 7007, after the federal COVID-19 funding was removed from the omnibus appropriations package. Some members objected to a provision in the funding package that would have rescinded $7 billion in previous funds for state and local aid. The standalone measure would preserve the state and local money. The measure would partially offset the new funds by rescinding $8.6 billion in unobligated money from previous pandemic relief laws.
The measure includes $10.6 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, most of which would be available for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to procure vaccines and therapeutics. At least $750 million would be set aside to develop vaccines for emerging COVID-19 variants. The measure would provide $4.45 billion for global health programs. The funds could be used for U.S. contributions to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It also includes $425 million for international disaster assistance.
The measure would permanently rescind unobligated balances from previous COVID-19 relief laws, including:
- A combined $4.85 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program.
- $2 billion from a payroll support program for aviation manufacturers.
- $1 billion from a program to purchase and distribute food and agricultural commodities and to make grants and loans to small and mid-sized food processors and distributors.
NGA Commends 100% FEMA Reimbursement to States
This extension allows FEMA to pay 100% federal funding for the costs of activities that have previously been determined eligible from the beginning of the pandemic. Those costs may include the safe opening and operating of eligible facilities, including schools, and to continue COVID-19 related medical care, vaccination and testing efforts. FEMA will also continue to provide 100% of the federal funding for National Guard activities to combat and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. National Guard activities under Title 32 remain under the command and control of their respective Governors but is funded by the Department of Defense. FEMA has mission assigned DoD to fund Title 32 National Guard deployments to support state and territorial efforts in response to the pandemic. Following July 1, the federal cost share will shift to 90%, rather than the statutory minimum 75% federal cost share.
‘Big 7’ Organizations Urge Flexibility on ARPA Funds
NGA, along with six other organizations representing state, territory and local governments, sent a letter to congressional leadership urging inclusion of the bipartisan State, Local Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act (S. 3011/H.R. 5735) in the fiscal year 2022 omnibus appropriations package. This legislation, approved by unanimous consent in the Senate on Oct. 19, would provide additional flexibility under the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that was included in the American Rescue Plan Act.
Governors Beshear and McMaster Release Statement on EV Funding
NGA’s Economic Recovery and Revitalization Task Force Co-Chairs, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, released a statement in connection with the $5 billion funding announcement for electric vehicle charging infrastructure by the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy. In part, the statement reads, “Governors are leading the way as states and territories adopt innovative strategies to support the electric vehicle industry and encourage greater EV adoption. The $5 billion in federal funding, provided by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, for EV charging systems will accelerate fleet expansion in the public and private sectors and enhance infrastructure reliability for travel and commerce.”
Chairman Hutchinson Advances K-12 Computer Science Education
NGA Chairman Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson convenes the next meeting on his Chairman’s Initiative, K-12 Computer Science Education, in Bentonville, Arkansas, this month. Governor Hutchinson hosts the meeting, and will welcome his neighbor, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
Governor Hutchinson has identified the issue of expanding computer science education as a key national issue that will benefit individual students by expanding their potential career pathways. In addition, it helps to achieve a national economic objective of providing employers with digitally literate workforce and supporting U.S. national security.
Governor Hutchinson is in communication with his fellow Governors and is asking them to sign a compact committing to advance computer science education in their states and territories.
The upcoming meeting in Bentonville will focus on how states are implementing computer science education policy. Each state takes a unique approach to expanding computer science education, and attendees will hear from national experts, as well as prominent education officials from six states.
Johnny Key, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Education, will moderate the panel. Participants are: Richard Hartley, senior policy advisor to Lousiana Governor John Bel Edwards; Dawn Morrison, computer science state administrator in Alabama; Dianne O’Grady-Cunniff, director of the Maryland Center for Computing Education; Dominick Sanders, computer science state supervisor in South Carolina; and Margie Vandeven, commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Attendees will also hear the perspectives of four computer science students from Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Romy Drucker, director of K-12 education programs for the Walton Family Foundation will moderate the students’ discussion.
NGA Provides Infrastructure Resources for States and Territories
Earlier this year, NGA launched a resource site for Governors as they began the exciting task of renewing the infrastructure in their states and territories through funds and resources from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Titled IIJA Implementation Resources, the site provides links to federal guidance now being issued by the relevant federal agencies and departments, associations working on infrastructure issues and information on how various states are implementing the new law.
Visitors to the site will find a calendar of upcoming IIJA funding opportunities and milestone dates, such as application deadlines. Links to important federal resources are included here, such as the online version of the White House’s IIJA Guidebooks, a comprehensive roadmap to all funding available under the new law. Examples of other items that can be found on the site include upcoming events and webinars, as well as readouts and commentaries summarizing their content.
In addition, NGA is working to connect Governors and their staff members to key decision-makers at the federal level. At NGA’s 2022 Winter Meeting in late January, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined NGA for in-person and on-screen events, as did Mr. Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to the President for infrastructure coordination. More recently, NGA brought together Governors’ key infrastructure officials with Mr. Landrieu (photo below) to hear the most recent news from the Administration.
Governors and their staff members are invited to connect with NGA’s infrastructure team, which includes policy professionals with expertise on cybersecurity, workforce policy, energy, environment and more.