Updated Aug. 30, 2023
The Texas Association of Counties created this webpage to collect information about the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021. The act established the $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which provided $65.1 billion in direct aid to every county, parish and borough in nationwide. Of that total, Texas' 254 counties were eligible to receive $5.7 billion to respond to and recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Counties received their allocations directly from the U.S. Treasury Department in two portions, or tranches: The first 50% started arriving in May 2021; the remaining 50% arrived about 12 months later. Each county's allocation was based generally on its share of the U.S. population.
The Treasury Department's Final Rule for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds took effect April 1, 2022. ARPA gives counties flexibility to decide how best to use their funds to meet the needs of their communities. Treasury guidelines allow broad actions by local governments to:
- Support the public health response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Replace lost public sector revenue. (The final rule offers a standard allowance for revenue loss of $10 million. Counties can select the standard allowance or complete a full revenue loss calculation. Counties that select the standard allowance may use the amount for government services.)
- Assist households, small businesses, nonprofits or industries such as travel and tourism negatively affected economically by the pandemic.
- Provide premium pay for workers who performed essential work during the pandemic.
- Invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
In December 2022, Congress passed the State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act. Co-sponsored by Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla of California, the amendment allows three additional uses of ARPA funds, as described by an Interim Final Rule issued by Treasury on Aug. 10, 2023:
- Emergency relief from natural disasters or their negative economic impacts.
- Surface transportation projects.
- Select community development projects.
ARPA flexibility highlights
The National Association of Counties (NACo) published an overview of the Treasury Department's proposed guidance for ARPA flexibility. NACo's analysis includes the following highlights:
- The 2023 Interim Final Rule does not alter existing eligible uses for State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds as outlined under Treasury's 2022 Final Rule.
- Counties may use ARPA funds for newly eligible uses for costs incurred beginning Dec. 29, 2022.
- Counties may use funds for mitigation activities to lessen or avert the threat of a natural disaster and its potential physical or negative economic impacts.
- Counties must still obligate funds, including newly eligible activities, by Dec. 31, 2024.
- Counties must expend ARPA funds obligated to provide emergency relief from natural disasters by Dec. 31, 2026.
- Counties must expend State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds obligated for surface transportation projects and Community Development Block Grant projects by Sept. 30, 2026.
- Counties can use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to satisfy the non-federal match requirement for Federal Emergency Management Agency projects and certain surface transportation projects.
- Counties can use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for non-federal match for the non-federal share requirements of a federal financial assistance program in support of activities that would be eligible under the Community Development Block Grant program.
Key resources and guidance on the American Rescue Plan: