Irvine to Receive over $50 Million From the American Rescue Plan Act

On a mostly party-line vote, Congress has passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. What does it mean for Irvine? According to an analysis by Forbes, this historic legislation (H.R.1319) will provide the city of Irvine with $53.1 million in direct aid.

The significance of the economic stimulus cannot be overstated. The Los Angeles Times reported that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti described the relief bill as “One of the most progressive pieces of federal legislation since the Great Depression.” This package also has broad bipartisan support. A recent survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found 70% of Americans favor the package, with 28% opposed.

Cities got hit hard by this pandemic. A survey from the National League of Cities found that 90% of cities have experienced a revenue decrease since the start of the pandemic and 76% have experienced an expenditure increase of 17%. Irvine is no exception. Irvine is facing a $8,498,142 budget deficit in the 2021-2022 budget cycle and another estimated deficit of $10,502,308 in 2023-2024.

This legislation will support Irvine residents by providing funding for:

  • nutrition programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program);
  • schools and institutions of higher education;
  • child care and programs for older Americans and their families;
  • COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, treatment, and prevention;
  • mental health and substance use disorder services;
  • emergency rental assistance, homeowner assistance, and other housing programs;
  • small business assistance, including specific programs for restaurants and live venues;
  • programs for health care workers, transportation workers, federal employees, veterans, and other targeted populations;
  • scientific research and development;
  • state, territorial, and tribal capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to COVID-19; and

The bill includes provisions that:

  • extend unemployment benefits and related services;
  • make up to $10,200 of 2020 unemployment compensation tax-free;
  • make student loan forgiveness tax-free through 2025;
  • provide a maximum recovery rebate of $1,400 per eligible individual;
  • expand and otherwise modify certain tax credits, including the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit;
  • provide premium assistance for certain health insurance coverage; and
  • require coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

It is unclear how the city of Irvine will choose to allocate the $53.1 million in direct aid, but the people of Irvine should be included in that conversation and have a public opportunity to provide input, help set priorities, and ensure that the money is only going to those services and programs most in need.