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Guest column: The truth about the COVID stimulus

by By Lisa Pavlock and Gerry Browning
| April 15, 2021 12:20 AM

When we elect politicians, the hope is that as they share information, they are giving us as much truth as possible. When Steve Daines was invited to reflect on the recently passed American Recovery Plan (ARP), also known as the COVID Stimulus Bill, it could be that he was just misinformed. We just wanted to set a couple of things straight for the record.

First, Sen. Daines explained that “$350 billion [would be a] bailout for blue states.” What we do know is $350 billion will be going to ALL states, and Montana will receive almost $3 billion dollars. That is what our own legislature is working on right now – making sure we are within the guidelines so that we can receive our share for all Montanans.

Next, Daines said; “Nearly $130 billion [was allocated] for schools, even though 95% of the funds will not be used to reopen schools this year.”

The truth is many schools have already been opened. So, this money is to shore up schools to remain open and to help communities to make the necessary repairs to keep our students safe, such as upgraded ventilation systems. Additionally, the funds will be used to support community efforts through summer school, smaller class sizes and hiring support staff.

Daines also said: “More than $40 billion [would be used] to expand Obamacare, subsidize it for wealthier Americans and begin the government takeover of health care in America.”

Making health care more accessible and affordable for hard working low- and middle-income Americans is the goal. There is no talk of getting rid of private health care for anyone who is lucky enough to have it.

Lastly, Daines said the ARP would be used as “a federal mandate preventing state governments from cutting taxes until 2024”.

It seems only fair that if the federal government is offering support we also would do our part by making certain our local and state governments pitch in. Right now the tax cuts being proposed by the Montana Legislature would help the wealthiest among us. As many of us know, the pandemic has not hit us all equally. Many of the wealthiest in the U.S. have actually done very well during the COVID-19 pandemic. So it is important we get the remainder of the stimulus checks out to hard-working Americans.

With targeted relief and strict oversight of the ARP, we will surely get back on track. Getting support to the areas that need it at the state and local levels will really help to boost the recovery of our communities all over Montana. Perhaps Sen. Daines should reassess the ARP from an unbiased political position. After all, should he not be concerned about its goodness for all Montanans?

Lisa Pavlock is a former Democratic candidate for Montana House District 93, and Gerry Browning is a former Democratic candidate for Montana House District 12.