The American Rescue Plan Act is an economic lifeline and a bridge to our future
Posted on Thursday, Mar. 25, 2021 at 8:15 am
The key to overcoming the pandemic and staging a national economic recovery starts with communities like ours. It is with great relief and an even greater sense of optimism that I share with you that help is on the way. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act will deliver $49 million in direct fiscal assistance to the City of Madison, ensuring our community has the resources we need to respond to, defeat, and look beyond the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, this legislation will provide federal dollars to address income, housing, and food insecurity locally.
On February 5, 2020, the City of Madison recorded its first case of COVID-19. None of us could have ever predicted the consequences of the virus on that fateful day. It has since claimed the lives of over half a million Americans, including thousands in Wisconsin. Over 40,000 jobs have disappeared in Wisconsin, and over a million people statewide have reported difficulty covering normal expenses. One in ten adults living with children are having difficulty putting food on the table. These are not just numbers and stats. These are our neighbors and friends. For far too many, it is the story of our own families.
As Mayor, I have been proud to witness how members of our community have stepped up to help fellow neighbors during this hour of need. Our public health employees immediately sprang into action, with little guidance and too few resources. Police, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel sacrificed their own health and safety to continue protecting residents and saving lives. Our teachers have adapted to the challenges of remote learning to minimize learning loss. Our transit employees have been resolute throughout it all, enabling all essential workers to continue their essential duties.
For more than a year, our City lacked access to direct and flexible federal resources to fully empower the dynamic emergency response demanded by this crisis. Before even taking office, President Joseph Biden and his Administration proposed the American Rescue Plan to provide more than $350 billion worth of assistance to support their intergovernmental partners in state and local government. By directing resources to cities of all sizes like Madison, the American Rescue Plan will enable us to more effectively manage the emergency, maintain our municipal payroll and services, protect the jobs of our selfless public servants, and begin to address the collective needs of residents.
ARP also provides direct support to individuals, families, and businesses. Roughly nine out of ten adults in Wisconsin will be eligible for an Economic Impact Payment, up to $1,400 per individual, including children. The legislation makes historic investments to safely reopen schools and increase access to childcare. It enhances the Child Tax Credit to benefit the families of a million children in the state. It expands the Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit 300,000 workers in Wisconsin and extends the federal unemployment insurance benefit to September 6, 2021. There are new federal programs to support our beloved restaurants, bars, and venues whose operations have been shuttered.
The relief is not just a lifeline; it is a bridge to our future. For instance, funding from the Federal Transit Administration will allow us to maintain the frequency of our transit service for riders who depend on it. The ability to utilize the Local Fiscal Relief Fund to address our revenue shortfalls resulting from the pandemic will enable the City to avoid costly delays and deliver our transformative infrastructure projects like a new Bus Rapid Transit System on schedule as planned.
I thank President Biden and Members of Congress - especially Congressman Pocan and Senator Baldwin - for their leadership and efforts that resulted in the passage of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation recognizes the critical role of cities in overcoming the pandemic and gives local governments the resources we need to build a healthy, equitable, and prosperous future for us all. The City of Madison is grateful for the meaningful federal partnership during this critical moment in our local response and recovery.