How the HEROES Act Would Allocate State and Local Aid for Coronavirus Relief

May 12, 2020

The HEROES Act, introduced Tuesday by House Democrats, provides more than $1 trillion to state and local governments, including $915 billion in flexible aid—which can be spent for any purpose, including to backfill revenue losses—in installments over the next year. In broad strokes, these coronavirus relief funds are four tranches for allocation purposes: by jurisdiction (i.e., the same amount to each state), by population, by COVID-19 cases, and by unemployment. The jurisdictional and population-based distributions can be thought of as guaranteed; this $667 billion share can be calculated now and will not change. The remaining $248 billion cannot be allocated yet, as it will depend on health and job statistics as of the spring of 2021.

This blog post outlines how this funding is distributed and makes provisional estimates of how much each state (and its local governments) will receive. It should be emphasized that these are preliminary estimates and should be treated as a rough idea of what each state can expect—not as a final calculation. Most payments under the bill are made in two installments, the second of which must be paid out by May 3, 2021.

The U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) in particular make out well under the bill’s funding formula, with tiny American Samoa receiving an estimated $2.17 billion in aid, worth $42,638 per capita, while the average for U.S. states and the District of Columbia is $1,910 per capita ($1,971 including the $20 billion for tribal governments). Across all U.S. populations, including territories, the average is $2,010.

Within the states, per capita distributions range from $1,562 in Pennsylvania to $5,051 in Wyoming. The District of Columbia, which many felt was shortchanged under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) in the CARES Act (since it did not receive the $1.25 billion minimum accorded to states), not only receives a gross-up of $755 million under the CRF, but also receives a $4,839 per capita allocation under the proposed state and local fiscal relief packages, higher than in any state other than Wyoming.

We have previously proposed that any state and local government relief package rely more heavily on population-based allocations, and outlined the difficulties associated with the use of health and economic measures, though the HEROES Act’s economic measure, at least, is largely in line with how we suggested such calculations be approached. Notably, the $915 billion price tag on this element of the HEROES Act, and the more than $1 trillion in total resources to states and localities, is significantly larger than existing estimates of state and local revenue losses—not just through next year, but for the full five years anticipated as necessary for government revenues to recover in real terms.

State-Level Funding

States and the District of Columbia divide $500 billion as follows:

  • $102 billion in equal payments of $2 billion
  • $150 billion divided by population
  • $49 billion allocated by share of COVID-19 cases (per data from the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • $199 billion based on unemployment as of the first quarter of 2021

Separately, territories receive $20 billion, half in equal $2 billion payments and the other half divided by population, while tribal lands also split $20 billion, for a total of $540 billion for states, territories, and tribal governments.

How would state coronavirus aid be allocated in the HEROES Act? HEROES Act state coronavirus aid, HEROES Act state aid

Local Funding

The bill’s local fiscal relief fund provides $375 billion in funding to localities, split as follows:

  • $131.25 billion to metropolitan cities as defined under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974—which is to say, cities that have populations of 50,000+ or are the principal city of a metropolitan statistical area
  • $56.25 billion for general governments other than counties or parishes in nonentitlement areas (basically, non-county municipal governments that are not metropolitan cities), distributed to states for local use
  • $187.5 billion for counties on the basis of population, with the proviso that urban counties (defined as those with a metropolitan area of 200,000+ that does not include the metropolitan city contained therein) receive no less funding than they would were they organized as a metropolitan city

How would local coronavirus aid be allocated in the HEROES Act? HEROES Act local coronavirus aid, HEROES Act local aid

Estimated Funding

The following table estimates the allocation of the $667 billion in “guaranteed” funding that is not contingent on COVID-19 cases or unemployment statistics as of spring 2021. Importantly, however, this estimate does not currently provide the gross-up for select urban counties and should thus be regarded as a provisional estimate.

HEROES Act Fiscal Relief Varies Among States and Territories
State/Territory State Aid Local Aid Total Aid Per Capita Aid
Alabama $4,240,673,954 $5,346,560,179 $9,587,234,133 $1,955
Alaska $2,334,303,892 $870,034,327 $3,204,338,219 $4,380
Arizona $5,326,252,549 $9,585,979,616 $14,912,232,165 $2,049
Arkansas $3,379,086,211 $3,423,476,170 $6,802,562,381 $2,254
California $20,056,428,415 $53,731,591,473 $73,788,019,888 $1,867
Colorado $4,631,646,525 $7,199,231,812 $11,830,878,337 $2,054
Connecticut $3,629,276,831 $3,345,220,678 $6,974,497,509 $1,956
Delaware $2,444,993,944 $785,025,376 $3,230,019,321 $3,317
Florida $11,814,968,413 $22,081,519,657 $33,896,488,069 $1,578
Georgia $6,851,985,634 $10,077,159,575 $16,929,145,208 $1,594
Hawaii $2,647,029,943 $1,143,164,060 $3,790,194,003 $2,677
Idaho $2,816,658,968 $2,117,614,619 $4,934,273,587 $2,761
Illinois $7,790,811,334 $16,843,851,546 $24,634,662,880 $1,944
Indiana $5,076,512,057 $7,781,224,220 $12,857,736,277 $1,910
Iowa $3,441,814,489 $3,948,585,967 $7,390,400,456 $2,342
Kansas $3,331,336,020 $3,782,079,367 $7,113,415,386 $2,442
Kentucky $4,041,652,217 $4,670,418,946 $8,712,071,163 $1,950
Louisiana $4,124,421,501 $4,593,579,743 $8,718,001,244 $1,875
Maine $2,614,282,516 $1,088,053,463 $3,702,335,979 $2,754
Maryland $4,762,775,158 $4,807,684,470 $9,570,459,628 $1,583
Massachusetts $5,149,759,178 $7,247,125,135 $12,396,884,313 $1,799
Michigan $6,563,827,464 $10,192,560,785 $16,756,388,250 $1,678
Minnesota $4,577,217,979 $7,184,315,610 $11,761,533,589 $2,086
Mississippi $3,360,050,569 $2,927,825,852 $6,287,876,421 $2,113
Missouri $4,804,702,467 $6,986,848,917 $11,791,551,384 $1,921
Montana $2,488,413,761 $1,099,911,342 $3,588,325,103 $3,357
Nebraska $2,883,992,267 $2,427,302,968 $5,311,295,235 $2,746
Nevada $3,407,580,037 $3,417,308,963 $6,824,889,000 $2,216
New Hampshire $2,621,365,301 $1,140,580,185 $3,761,945,486 $2,767
New Jersey $6,059,013,028 $8,671,889,634 $14,730,902,661 $1,658
New Mexico $2,958,215,961 $2,455,496,375 $5,413,712,336 $2,582
New York $10,889,953,664 $22,780,026,247 $33,669,979,911 $1,731
North Carolina $6,792,879,863 $11,243,981,612 $18,036,861,475 $1,720
North Dakota $2,348,249,653 $940,029,031 $3,288,278,684 $4,315
Ohio $7,341,724,190 $13,096,909,281 $20,438,633,471 $1,749
Oklahoma $3,808,269,902 $4,934,764,599 $8,743,034,501 $2,210
Oregon $3,927,435,625 $5,033,777,678 $8,961,213,303 $2,125
Pennsylvania $7,850,295,944 $12,149,683,941 $19,999,979,885 $1,562
Rhode Island $2,484,110,349 $1,109,049,393 $3,593,159,742 $3,392
South Carolina $4,352,876,622 $4,529,739,480 $8,882,616,101 $1,725
South Dakota $2,404,274,442 $1,034,625,268 $3,438,899,710 $3,887
Tennessee $5,120,818,878 $7,539,433,340 $12,660,252,218 $1,854
Texas $15,250,635,116 $36,042,679,684 $51,293,314,800 $1,769
Utah $3,465,069,458 $4,324,507,785 $7,789,577,243 $2,430
Vermont $2,285,152,590 $483,393,250 $2,768,545,840 $4,437
Virginia $5,900,590,149 $7,700,460,473 $13,601,050,623 $1,593
Washington $5,479,879,387 $8,813,322,943 $14,293,202,329 $1,877
West Virginia $2,818,981,357 $1,537,633,470 $4,356,614,828 $2,431
Wisconsin $4,660,755,451 $6,906,440,207 $11,567,195,658 $1,987
Wyoming $2,264,483,232 $658,959,283 $2,923,442,515 $5,051
District of Columbia $2,322,515,549 $1,092,905,076 $3,415,420,625 $4,839
American Samoa $2,138,407,683 $28,712,078 $2,167,119,760 $42,638
Guam $2,456,871,163 $94,775,955 $2,551,647,118 $15,209
Northern Mariana Islands $2,141,588,342 $29,371,892 $2,170,960,233 $41,754
Puerto Rico $10,971,816,584 $1,861,164,706 $12,832,981,290 $3,895
Virgin Islands $2,291,316,229 $60,432,297 $2,351,748,526 $21,984
Tribal Governments $20,000,000,000 n.a. $20,000,000,000 n.a.
Totals $292,000,000,000 $375,000,000,000 $667,000,000,000 $2,010 avg.
Sources: HEROES Act; U.S. Census Bureau; Tax Foundation calculations.

Finally, while we obviously cannot know what COVID-19 cases or unemployment will look like in the spring of 2021, we can make rough approximations as to how the aid would be distributed based on current conditions. The following table estimates distribution of the $49 billion allocated by COVID-19 cases (using the latest May CDC data) and the $199 billion allocated by unemployment (a very rough estimate using unemployment claims data to apportion job losses), and then sums them with the total of “guaranteed” state and local aid. This should be regarded as no more than a rough estimate based on current conditions but may help illustrate how funding under the HEROES Act could work.

HEROES Act Fiscal Relief Based on Current (May 2020) Health and Economic Conditions
State/Territory COVID Cases Unemployment Total (current data) Per Capita Aid
Alabama $326,117,707 $3,136,179,186 $13,049,531,026 $2,661
Alaska $22,215,103 $427,996,218 $3,654,549,540 $4,996
Arizona $313,529,149 $3,335,418,804 $18,561,180,118 $2,550
Arkansas $121,072,309 $1,247,092,429 $8,170,727,119 $2,708
California $1,938,786,058 $25,288,673,103 $101,015,479,049 $2,557
Colorado $635,500,036 $2,206,394,298 $14,672,772,671 $2,548
Connecticut $1,176,215,635 $1,822,673,550 $9,973,386,694 $2,797
Delaware $153,654,460 $560,822,631 $3,944,496,411 $4,051
Florida $1,679,017,458 $10,463,769,612 $14,053,208,541 $19,912
Georgia $1,218,202,179 $10,655,629,986 $46,231,135,513 $2,153
Hawaii $40,061,235 $1,475,849,029 $19,623,196,415 $1,848
Idaho $119,147,001 $833,854,701 $4,664,109,939 $3,294
Illinois $1,905,537,454 $6,242,841,391 $11,296,261,978 $6,321
Indiana $706,588,365 $4,471,822,556 $31,012,022,891 $2,447
Iowa $158,541,783 $1,852,190,531 $15,416,515,172 $2,290
Kansas $117,591,943 $1,697,226,383 $9,246,168,621 $2,931
Kentucky $179,868,281 $4,412,788,595 $11,643,795,925 $3,997
Louisiana $1,668,502,309 $3,320,660,314 $12,212,599,758 $2,734
Maine $58,944,072 $730,545,269 $11,117,048,822 $2,391
Maryland $856,910,559 $2,722,941,458 $6,484,221,509 $4,824
Massachusetts $2,383,014,060 $4,582,511,234 $15,009,881,421 $2,483
Michigan $2,166,935,162 $8,936,265,868 $23,716,164,241 $3,441
Minnesota $149,063,339 $3,947,896,151 $22,871,219,563 $2,290
Mississippi $280,872,948 $1,608,675,441 $13,519,272,368 $2,397
Missouri $378,471,299 $3,542,037,668 $10,110,787,037 $3,397
Montana $31,249,244 $523,926,405 $12,693,949,088 $2,068
Nebraska $78,937,665 $745,303,759 $4,364,878,107 $4,084
Nevada $245,921,186 $3,202,592,392 $8,592,825,292 $4,442
New Hampshire $89,674,964 $1,062,611,301 $8,133,421,487 $2,641
New Jersey $5,577,249,619 $6,515,873,461 $10,367,493,911 $7,625
New Mexico $118,258,396 $737,924,514 $21,046,076,795 $2,369
New York $16,046,931,293 $10,854,869,605 $16,386,840,338 $7,815
North Carolina $404,685,120 $5,335,194,238 $55,052,105,442 $2,830
North Dakota $29,101,784 $391,099,993 $18,832,646,587 $1,796
Ohio $623,059,579 $7,394,003,633 $10,711,384,101 $14,056
Oklahoma $174,684,757 $2,287,565,994 $23,349,259,044 $1,998
Oregon $128,551,394 $2,036,671,659 $10,954,390,917 $2,768
Pennsylvania $2,053,786,239 $11,386,175,255 $20,475,939,952 $4,855
Rhode Island $293,905,808 $988,818,849 $23,042,584,973 $1,800
South Carolina $291,091,895 $2,973,835,792 $6,860,901,343 $6,476
South Dakota $97,079,999 $236,135,845 $9,409,843,841 $1,828
Tennessee $463,703,242 $3,077,145,224 $6,613,124,933 $7,475
Texas $1,218,498,380 $11,865,826,189 $24,989,781,650 $3,659
Utah $204,378,944 $1,195,437,713 $53,707,250,893 $1,852
Vermont $56,870,663 $354,203,767 $8,348,159,954 $2,604
Virginia $554,711,113 $3,933,137,661 $6,758,554,164 $10,831
Washington $825,809,416 $6,161,669,694 $20,317,431,430 $2,380
West Virginia $54,723,203 $959,301,869 $16,078,313,614 $2,111
Wisconsin $286,945,076 $3,291,143,334 $7,702,481,364 $4,298
Wyoming $29,694,187 $228,756,599 $12,082,897,333 $2,075
District of Columbia $174,018,304 $405,858,483 $3,358,995,185 $5,804
American Samoa no data no data $2,167,119,760 $42,638
Guam $9,996,796 no data $2,561,643,914 $15,269
Northern Mariana Islands $962,654 no data $2,171,922,888 $41,773
Puerto Rico $77,234,507 $1,317,010,777 $14,227,226,573 $4,318
Virgin Islands $3,924,668 $15,149,590 $2,370,822,784 $22,162
Tribal Governments $20,000,000,000
Totals $49,000,000,000 $199,000,000,000 $915,000,000,000 $2,757 avg.

Sources: HEROES Act; U.S. Census Bureau; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Labor; Tax Foundation calculations.

Errata: Table 2 has been revised since publication to correct an error in the calculation of unemployment-based relief. A reference to the timing of COVID-19 case calculations has also been corrected.

Was this page helpful to you?

No

Thank You!

The Tax Foundation works hard to provide insightful tax policy analysis. Our work depends on support from members of the public like you. Would you consider contributing to our work?

Contribute to the Tax Foundation

Related Articles