On March 11, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, unleashing a wave of $1.9 trillion that will cascade across the country in coming months.
There’s money for state and local governments, schools, vaccine distribution, housing assistance, restaurants and more, on top of checks for individuals and tax credits for parents with kids.
Some of that money, of course, will end up in Kodiak. For instance, the National Association of Counties estimates that the Kodiak Island Borough government will get $2,520,882 in aid. The city of Kodiak government will likely get $1,210,000, the city’s federal lobbyists said in a memo.
But that will arrive later, and is only a fraction of the total amount.
The stimulus checks have already begun to arrive. People who have direct deposit information stored with the Internal Revenue Service will get the money dropped into their account sooner than others.
Anyone who makes less than $75,000 is eligible to get $1,400, or $150,000 for couples who file their taxes jointly. Heads of households can make up to $112,500. Payments are reduced for those over those thresholds. Any child under the age of 17 or dependent is eligible too.
In Kodiak, there are about 3,600 people who make $75,000 or less, according to data from the American Community Survey, which is part of the U.S. Census. That doesn’t count dependents or heads of households. But the checks for just those 3,600 will total around $5 million.
Families can get additional cash in the act, too, with an expansion of the child tax credit. Families with kids under the age of six can get $3,600 per child and $3,000 per child for kids between 6 and 17. The income qualifications are the same as for the individual stimulus checks.
Trying to find out how much money this will end up bringing to Kodiak is much harder than for the stimulus checks, but there are 961 children under age 5 and 2,468 under 18 in Kodiak. Not all of them will qualify because many of their parents’ incomes are too high, but it will still be a substantial amount of money coming here.
The money heading to local government here is smaller than what the city and borough got in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that passed last spring. The borough got about $5.8 million, while the city got $11.9 million.
Unlike the CARES money, these dollars are far more flexible. They can be spent anytime until Dec. 31, 2024. Like the CARES Act, they can be used for things directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic like assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits. But they can also be used for additional payments to essential workers, replacing revenue lost due to the pandemic, or making needed investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
Borough Mayor Bill Roberts said that the borough was still in the process of deciding what to do with the money. Flexible as it is, it can’t be used to replace lost tax revenue, which is what would really help the borough out.
The Department of Education announced recently that Alaska would get $359 million in money for schools. That dwarfs $38.4 million in the CARES Act and $160 million in the appropriations act that passed at the end of 2020.
The money can be used for adaptations for schools like air filters and sanitizing, extra staff to help catch up students who’ve fallen behind, more summer school options or hiring extra nurses. Those funds don’t need to be spent until Sept. 23, 2023, giving schools plenty of time to decide how to use them.
There is much more in the bill that could end up in Kodiak. There’s a whole separate $28.6 billion fund for restaurants, bars and caterers, for instance. There’s also $4 billion for seafood processors and fishermen, $200 million for libraries and $8.5 billion for rural health care providers to cover COVID-19 related costs.