States and local public health officials have warned for months that they would need more than $8 billion in additional funding to stand up the infrastructure needed to administer vaccines. The Trump administration instead provided states $340 million in funding to prepare for vaccinations. Congressional lawmakers also balked for months at appropriating additional funding for vaccine distribution, although the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Trump on Sunday included $8 billion in funding for that effort.
That is from a recent StatNews article. Now I gladly would have expanded the federal contribution, by several times over if need be. But people, let us put this in perspective. First, the states got the $8 billion they were asking for. Yes, the delay is very very bad, but let’s say they had come up with $8 billion on their own several months ago.
Total state and local spending is about $3.7 trillion, $2.3 trillion from the states alone. $8 billion is how much of that?
About one-third of one percent.
Our states cannot come up with one third of one percent of their budgets to meet the greatest emergency in my lifetime?
This has been a pandemic of outrages, but this undercovered issue is one of the very largest of those outrages. Heaven forbid that states should have to take a sliver of their budget away from deserving recipients. To so many people this is simply unthinkable, and I mean that word in a very literal sense.
(And yes I do know this year is especially tight on state budgets, etc. But even if those budgets were cut to a third of their normal level — hardly the case — that is still only one percent of state budgets.)
The other outrage is how few people have been willing to criticize the states for not having done better fiscal planning here. You will find many deserved criticisms of Trump on this, but there is more than one line of defense, or at least there is supposed to be. So yes, you should be mad at the states.