WASHINGTON (July 6, 2020)—Today, the R Street Institute announced a coalition of 30 organizations calling for more stringent oversight of federal aid to states and localities. A letter signed by leaders from both national and state-based organizations called for any future aid to the states to be (1) direct; (2) transparent; (3) fair; and (4) responsible. Currently on recess, Congress is widely expected to debate a new aid package—including new state aid—upon its return.

“Congress should abide by commonsense principles to ensure that taxpayer relief funds are spent wisely and prudently,” said Jonathan Bydlak, R Street director of the Fiscal & Budget Policy Project. “With nearly three trillion dollars already out the door in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that any future funds are allocated as transparently and intelligently as possible. Nowhere is this more important than with respect to aid for states and localities, which up to this point have been dispersed without any oversight whatsoever. The same accountability that has been afforded to other relief efforts like the Paycheck Protection program should apply to state aid as well.”

The letter notes: “Our organizations take various positions on what we consider the appropriate amount of federal aid to be and whether further aid is even necessary. But we all believe that any additional funding should be conditioned on reasonable transparency requirements of its recipients.” Rather than continuing to distribute funding to states without oversight, signatories argue that funds should be targeted toward strain explicitly caused by the pandemic, and distributed proportional to state populations. Critically, it also suggests that all expenses should be posted online so that citizens will know that it isn’t put toward unrelated policy priorities.

The R Street Institute has been a leader in shaping accountability in the federal packages, leading efforts to strengthen protections for inspectors general, and ensuring that information about funds distributed to businesses is made available to lawmakers and the general public. The full text of the letter can be viewed here.

Image credit: Golden Brown

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