Biden Admin Shortchanges Suburbs for Coronavirus Relief Money


Urban boosters, which includes the largely urban based media class, often complain that red state governments have it in for blue cities. There’s a frequent stream of argumentation to this effect, such as this new piece in Politico on how states are taking power away from mayors.

I’m generally a pro-local control person and have written before in opposition to many of these preemptions. It is true that some of these mayors are explicitly attempting to subvert state policies through local action. If you do that, then don’t be surprised when the state drops the hammer. But in general there are a wide range of actions in which localities legitimately should have flexibility to go their own way.

Of course, blue states never seem to provide the same flexibility to red areas of their state. For example, is there a single blue state that allows counties or localities to opt for a lower minimum wage? Or to opt out of a statewide plastic bag ban? Blue state governments rarely seem to provide policy flexibility to red communities, something that receives no coverage in Politico.

Another example of blue government discrimination is the new coronavirus relief money to state and local governments. You can view the distributions on the Treasury’s web site.

The Democrats have set up a funding distribution that heavily favors deep blue cities over more politically diverse suburbs. This apparently involved a revision of guidance that had previously been provided to these communities, showing that it was a conscious choice. For example, the city of Fishers, a suburb of Indianapolis, is getting $13 million fewer dollars than it had previously anticipated.

The gap in per capita funding between cities and suburbs is very large. For example, in Indiana, South Bend, Evansville, Carmel and Fishers are all about the same size in population. But Evansville is getting $64.5 million and South Bend $58.9 million, while Carmel is getting $7.5 million and Fishers only $6.9 million. The former two are deep blue central cities while Carmel and Fishes are suburbs.

On a rough per capita basis, Evansville is getting $546 per person, South Bend $577 per person, but Carmel only $74 per person and Fishers $72 per person.

This is a difference of about 7.5 times per capita. It’s not due to size class of city, these cities are similar in population (Evansville is slightly larger than the others).

Urban boosters are already defending these funding disparities on twitter (of course). If any funding program produced these disparities in the other direction, it would already have been viciously attacked on the front page of every major newspaper in America.

This example illustrates that Democrats have no interest in governing for the common good. They govern explicitly in the interest of their own voting constituencies.

While in an ideal world, I do think red states should provide more flexibility to cities, in this environment it’s difficult to blame red state legislatures for any anti-city legislation they care to pass.

This piece first appeared in Heartland Intelligence and is reprinted here with the author's permission.

Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker and writer on a mission to help America’s cities and people thrive and find real success in the 21st century. He focuses on urban, economic development and infrastructure policy in the greater American Midwest. He also regularly contributes to and is cited by national and global media outlets, and his work has appeared in many publications, including the The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Photo: by J Harrelson, via Wikimedia under CC 3.0 License.

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Is governed as a blue state?