Less than two months after taking office, President Biden and congressional Democrats secured a major legislative victory and delivered much-needed help for working families across the country. It’s often said that elections have consequences—in this case, elections have resulted in consequential and indeed transformational positive change for tens of millions of American working families.
The American Rescue Plan is a game-changer, not only in our fight against the pandemic but in establishing a bridge toward the sustainable recovery we all need. Working families bearing the brunt of this awful crisis will benefit from the varied and immediate aid; states, localities, and tribes working to mitigate the economic fallout of the pandemic will benefit from the significant direct funding; millions of children will be lifted out of poverty; and all Americans will benefit from the provisions that will help us get schools safely back open and more people vaccinated expeditiously.
As governors, we finally have the direct funding officials from both red and blue states been asking for since last March. In total, 89 percent of American taxpayers will receive stimulus checks, the federal government is investing $20 billion to speed up the vaccine rollout, and states will receive $350 billion to help continue essential services and invest in our economic recovery. New Mexicans are getting over $2.5 billion, plus $1 billion for schools and stimulus checks for 92 percent of adults. The child tax credit from the bill will go to the families of 454,000 children, lifting tens of thousands of New Mexico children out of poverty immediately. We plan to use the money given to the state to speed up our vaccine rollout, add to the Medicaid program, and aid schools and small businesses as they safely reopen.
In addition to focusing the help where it’s needed most, Democratic governors are also a key part of ensuring your federal relief funds are not misused. Republicans have been playing political games with pandemic relief—opposing it to prove themselves loyal to the GOP, and then trying to abuse the funds for their own gain. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) opposes the plan, which includes money to reopen schools, while simultaneously siphoning funds away from public education. In Kansas, Republican senators just passed a bill to cut dedicated funding for public schools by more than half a billion dollars—and attempted to paper over their recklessness by using federal funds that were supposed to go towards COVID-19 related expenses. Gov. Laura Kelly (D-KS) is the last line of defense against schemes like this—she vowed to make sure schools have the money they need and COVID-19 funds are allocated properly.
Democratic governors have been the ones preventing this ship from sinking during the past year. Even while managing the pandemic with little guidance from the Trump administration, Democratic governors passed their own forms of pandemic relief at the state level to patch the holes and keep Americans afloat. In New Mexico, I crafted and approved a $330 million rescue package, including stimulus checks for every unemployed New Mexican, hundreds of millions for small-business grants, tax holidays for restaurants, direct relief to food banks and housing support groups, and significant tax rebates for lower-income working families; Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) provided $480 million in tax relief for businesses and low-income families impacted by the pandemic; Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN) signed a bipartisan $216 million small business relief package; Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-NV) signed legislation adding $50 million dollars to the state’s small business relief program; and Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) allocated $145 million for small business grants.
Democratic governors plan to continue supporting Americans through the rest of the pandemic with the vital relief from the American Rescue Plan. This bill is exactly the kind of unifying and bold leadership that Americans have been desperate for since the moment this pandemic began. All together, and with the American Rescue Plan accelerating relief and stimulus efforts, we will end this pandemic and build back better than ever before.
Michelle Lujan Grisham is the 32nd governor of New Mexico and chair of the Democratic Governors Association.