Guest post by Susan Gentz.
The Senate unanimously voted to pass a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package earlier this week, and the House is poised to pass the bill in a bipartisan manner on Friday, March 27th. If the House passes this historical legislation there will be a surge of federal dollars into the technology sector.
Not only is there $150 billion to states, territories, local and tribal governments to use for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 in the face of revenue declines and direct payments to Americans (Individuals get $1,200, and married couples get $2,400—$500 per child younger than age 17) but also additional areas of funding specific to boost technology opportunities.
The National Conference of State Legislatures has provided a comprehensive list of funding here.
The Technology Specific Highlights:
- $6 million to the National Institute of Standards and Technology for measurement science to support viral testing and biomanufacturing.
- $60 million for Industrial Technology Services, including support to manufacturing for development of biomedical equipment.
- $13.5 billion for LEAS for coronavirus-response activities, such as planning for and coordinating during long-term school closures; purchasing educational technology to support online learning for all students served by the local educational agency; and additional activities authorized by federal elementary and secondary education laws.
- $25 million to the USDA’s Rural Development Grant Program for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, as well as $100 million to the USDA’s ReConnect program to help ensure rural Americans have access to broadband.
- $2 million for justice information sharing technology. Expands videoconferencing abilities for prison health care and criminal proceedings.
- $400 million in election security grants to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus in the 2020 federal election cycle. States must provide an accounting to the Election Assistance Commission of how the funds were spent within 20 days of any 2020 election.
Congress is pumping the funds into areas that bolster work and learn from home environments. Access to broadband was a priority before, but it just rose to the top of the list. Just like the COVID-19 situation itself, this process is always evolving. More details will emerge once a final bill is signed, and I’ll keep you updated with further developments as they become available.
Also, if you know any Senate staffers, make sure to thank them, they haven’t slept in days.
Susan Gentz is founder & owner of BSG Strategies and is a contributing writer for Clay & Milk.