Pickle Ball Courts, CRT Training, Parking Meter Readers, And Golf Course Irrigation: The Wasteful Legacy Of Biden’s Slush Fund For State And Local Governments

As Democrats Prepared To Pass Their Massive $1.9 Trillion Left-Wing Wish List Of Stimulus Spending Last Year, President Biden Asked, ‘What Would They Have Me Cut?’ Senate Republicans’ Answer: The $350 Billion State And Local Slush Fund That Predictably Financed A Smorgasbord Of Wasteful Projects Unrelated To The Pandemic


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Democrats spent two trillion dollars of the American people’s money and purchased the worst inflation in more than 40 years. Well, actually, that’s not all it purchased. Sure, the Democrats’ two trillion dollars didn’t buy our country anything lasting like a Hoover Dam or Interstate Highway System. Nothing like that. But that money had to go someplace. And boy, did it ever. Democrats and lots of the media spent most of 2020 and 2021 shouting that Republicans were risking calamity because we didn’t want to dump endless sums into slush funds for state and local governments. It turns out we were right and they were wrong. State and local governments are now so awash in Democrat bailout money they can’t even figure out where to put it. One recent news report found this bonanza ‘provided a boon for localities seeking to build or upgrade their pickleball amenities.’ … In New York, one county set aside $12 million in so-called ‘relief funds’ to renovate a minor league baseball stadium. In Iowa, county officials put aside $2 million to buy a private ski area. In Colorado, two golf courses are getting their irrigation systems replaced, thank goodness. In Wisconsin, a skate park is getting a million-dollar makeover. The American Rescue Plan didn’t ‘rescue’ working people from anything. It only ‘rescued’ bureaucrats from any semblance of fiscal sanity. Remember, Democrats openly admitted they viewed pandemic relief as an ideological Trojan horse. They called this terrible, deadly virus, quote, ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.’ And right on cue… Their so-called rescue plan has funded environmental justice grants to address something called ‘inequitable tree canopy cover’ in Massachusetts. Some public school systems, in the vice grip of Big Labor, are using their windfalls to advance bizarre indoctrination in things like Critical Race Theory. The ‘Rescue Plan’ dollars have funded staff trainings to make sure the educators paid to look after young kids are up on all the latest ‘woke’ buzzwords and causes. The American people wouldn’t want this junk if it were free. They definitely didn’t want it for the price tag of $2 trillion of their money and the worst inflation in a generation.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 5/02/2022)


Democrats’ Slush Fund For State And Local Governments Was Spent On Projects Completely Unrelated To The Pandemic Like ‘Anti-Racism’ Training, ‘Environmental Justice’ Grants, A Democrat Governor’s Reelection Bid, Debt Relief For The Ted Kennedy Institute, Pickle Ball Courts, And A Ski Resort In Iowa

‘[P]erhaps Pickleball Courts Will Become A Lasting Legacy Of The $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act’

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars Each For Pickle Ball Courts In ‘Dozens Of Cities And Towns’ From Texas To Missouri To Connecticut To North Carolina To Ohio To Florida

“Dozens of municipalities are adding pickleball courts to their park and recreation offerings – and many are using a slice of their coronavirus aid package to underwrite the construction boom. If the Hoover Dam and the Lincoln Tunnel are enduring monuments to the New Deal’s infrastructure spending, perhaps pickleball courts will become a lasting legacy of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act.” (“Federal Covid Aid is Funding a Pickleball Court Construction Boom”, Route Fifty, 4/26/2022)

  • “The Covid relief money was initially pitched by Democrats in Congress as a way to boost local economies, promote vaccinations, create jobs and help local schools. But the federal government gives communities broad latitude in how to spend ARPA dollars. Under the rules, the money can be used to provide premium pay for certain essential workers, invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, and replace public sector revenue that was lost during the pandemic. That last category is often used to justify spending on pickleball projects.” (“Federal Covid Aid is Funding a Pickleball Court Construction Boom”, Route Fifty, 4/26/2022)

“The cost to build a public pickleball court can range from $20,000 to more than $250,000, depending on the site, whether the courts are fenced and if other amenities are added.” (“Federal Covid Aid is Funding a Pickleball Court Construction Boom”, Route Fifty, 4/26/2022)

“From Seguin, Texas to Chesterfield, Missouri to Groton, Connecticut, dozens of cities and towns are planning to use the historic infusion of federal cash to support the growing demand for pickleball venues…. [T]he money flowing to state and local governments through the American Rescue Plan has provided a boon for localities seeking to build or upgrade their pickleball amenities.” (“Federal Covid Aid is Funding a Pickleball Court Construction Boom”, Route Fifty, 4/26/2022)

  • “The city of Sidney, Ohio decided to spend $75,000 of its $2 million Covid relief pot on pickleball courts after 130 people signed a petition supporting the project. Groton, Connecticut is considering setting aside $25,000 of its American Rescue Plan allocation to repair and paint outdoor pickleball courts, noting that the sport offered residents a safe recreational opportunity throughout the pandemic. And last week, officials in Gulfport, Florida approved spending ARPA funds to demolish the old combination pickleball/tennis facility and build separate courts for each sport, with enhanced lighting.” (“Federal Covid Aid is Funding a Pickleball Court Construction Boom”, Route Fifty, 4/26/2022)


$12 Million For A Minor League Baseball Stadium In New York; $5 Million To Pay The Debts Of The Ted Kennedy Institute In Massachusetts; Tens Of Millions For Tourism Campaigns For Puerto Rico, Washington, DC, And Arizona; $6.6 Million For Golf Course Irrigation In Colorado; $2 Million To Purchase A Ski Resort In Iowa; $2.5 Million To Hire Parking Enforcers In Washington, DC; ‘$1 Million To Pay Off Overdue Child Support In’ Missouri

“[S]cores of projects that state and local governments across the United States are funding with federal coronavirus relief money despite having little to do with combating the pandemic, a review by The Associated Press has found.” (“Pandemic Relief Money Spent On Hotel, Ballpark, Ski Slopes,” The Associated Press, 3/23/2022)


Tens Of Billions Of Dollars For School Systems In California, New York, And Illinois Used To Implement Aspects Of Critical Race Theory

“Blue states across the country are using billions of taxpayer dollars from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package to push core tenets of critical race theory (CRT) in public schools. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, which the Democrats passed in March 2021 without any Republican support, was billed by the Democratic Party as a necessity for reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the law provided over $122 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), which helped multiple states implement ‘implicit bias’ and ‘anti-racism’ training, among other programs, according to research from One Nation shared with and verified by Fox News Digital.” (“California, New York, Illinois Used COVID-19 Relief Funds To Push CRT In Schools,” Fox News, 4/28/2022)

  • “In August 2021, the U.S. Department of Education published a report offering strategies for how states should use ARP funds to support families and reengage students for the return of in-person learning. The DoE report said, ‘Rebuilding from COVID-19 is an opportunity to reexamine and strengthen school policies,’ and that some school systems may see a need for a ‘culture shift’ to ensure schools ‘reopen equitably for all students.’ … The DoE report said school districts should ‘implement strategies designed for systemic change at the local and school level.’ ‘Educators should evaluate and reflect on their school culture, climate, and policies and can use well-designed survey tools to learn what practices may be keeping all students from feeling safe, included, and academically challenged and supported,’ the report said. ‘Based on this information, they should commit to making improvements to achieve the goal of safe, inclusive, and supportive learning environments.’” (“California, New York, Illinois Used COVID-19 Relief Funds To Push CRT In Schools,” Fox News, 4/28/2022)

“Applications were due on June 7, 2021, and at least $46.5 billion from the ARP ESSER fund has been allocated to 13 states, including California, New York and Illinois, that are planning to use the funds to implement CRT in their schools.” (“California, New York, Illinois Used COVID-19 Relief Funds To Push CRT In Schools,” Fox News, 4/28/2022)

  • “The California Department of Education was awarded $15.1 billion in ARP ESSER funding to implement its schools reopening plan, which included $1.5 billion for training resources for school staff regarding ‘high-need topics,’ like ‘implicit bias training.’ The California DoE used funds to ‘increase educator training and resources’ in subjects such as ‘anti-bias strategies,’ ‘environmental literacy,’ ‘ethnic studies,’ and ‘LGBTQ+ cultural competency,’ according to the plan.” (“California, New York, Illinois Used COVID-19 Relief Funds To Push CRT In Schools,” Fox News, 4/28/2022)
  • “The New York State Education Department (NYSED) was awarded $9 billion in ARP ESSER funding to implement its reopening plan, which supported ‘putting DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) at the heart of NYSED’s work with’ all local education agencies. The funds helped NYSED’s Civic Readiness Taskforce build a DEI plan to provide ‘staff development on topics such as culturally responsive sustaining instruction and student support practices, privilege, implicit bias, and reactions in times of stress.’ The approved plan also recommended that schools use social-emotional learning [SEL] to ‘support the work of anti-racism and anti-bias.’The plan, quoting the [NY State Board of Regents’] DEI framework, said ’equity warriors’ were currently working to create ‘more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive’ school communities across the state, and that their efforts should be ‘recognized and applauded.’” (“California, New York, Illinois Used COVID-19 Relief Funds To Push CRT In Schools,” Fox News, 4/28/2022)
  • “In Illinois, $5.1 billion in ARP ESSER funding was awarded to the state Board of Education for its reopening plan that implemented strategies with ‘an emphasis on equity and diversity.’ The plan provided school districts with training on topics like ‘anti-racism’ and equity, and allocated a percentage of funds to create a statewide coalition to help school districts offer grants for projects addressing ‘issues pertaining to interrupted learning and support groups that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic (e.g., homeless, LGBQT [sic], marginalized communities).’” (“California, New York, Illinois Used COVID-19 Relief Funds To Push CRT In Schools,” Fox News, 4/28/2022)


Millions Of Dollars For ‘Environmental Justice’ Grants For ‘Dialogue Surrounding Inequitable Tree Canopy Cover’ In Massachusetts And Electric Vehicle Charging Stations In North Carolina

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting new applications for grants funded by President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed in 2021, but last year’s awards funded some projects that had virtually little to do with addressing the impact of the pandemic. The EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants Program recently announced it is using $1.6 million of American Rescue Plan funds to award grants … Last year under the same program, 99 organizations nationwide were selected to receive awards totaling approximately $7.4 million in grant funding, which included $5.25 million allocated from the American Rescue Plan and $2.15 million from what the EPA describes as its ‘baseline [Environmental Justice] appropriation.’ Those grants were for up to $75,000 for each project that addressed ‘health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID–19 pandemic,’ the EPA said at the time. A review of the 2021 awards, however, shows that the program funded grants for some projects that had virtually little to do with addressing COVID-19 or the effects of the pandemic.” (“EPA Used COVID-19 Relief Funds For Grants Promoting ‘Green Infrastructure,’ ‘Environmental Justice,’” Fox News, 4/20/2022)


Billions Of Dollars Used To Send Checks To Voters As Part Of A Scheme To Help Reelect Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom In California

“California residents making less than $75,000 can officially expect new $600 stimulus payments as part of a package of budget bills Gov. Gavin Newsom signed [July 12th]. Newsom celebrated the bill signings at a Tuesday afternoon rally in Los Angeles with political allies in government and the labor movement, where speakers took a political tone, framing the budget as a reason to keep Newsom in office. Newsom, a Democrat, face[d] a recall election in September.” (“Gavin Newsom Signs California Budget Bill Authorizing $600 Stimulus Payments,” The Sacramento Bee, 7/13/2021)

“California lawmakers voted tonight to approve a record-busting state budget that reflects new agreements with Gov. Gavin Newsom … The $262.6 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 was fueled by a $76 billion state surplus and $27 billion in federal aid.” (“Five Things To Know About Newsom’s Budget Deal With Legislature,” CalMatters, 6/28/2021)

“[A]s Newsom fights to hang onto his job, he’s used the budget process to show voters his priorities. In May, he barnstormed the state, announcing multi-billion dollar budget nuggets in every major media market … In June, he launched the first TV ads of his anti-recall campaign — featuring the same ‘roaring back’ branding and a focus on the same budget items: funding to house 65,000 homeless people, $600 stimulus payments for most Californians and $4 billion in grants for small businesses. ‘Newsom is delivering money to your pocket,’ the ad says.” (“Five Things To Know About Newsom’s Budget Deal With Legislature,” CalMatters, 6/28/2021)


$1 Million For A Skateboard Park In Wisconsin

“The Wausau [Wisconsin] City Council on [April 26th] approved using more than $1 million from federal funds to convert all high intensity lighting in the city to LED and to carry out improvements in the skateboard park at Oak Island. The entire funding approved, $1,106,971, would be sourced from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant, the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The LED lighting project has been allocated $881,971 and the Skateboard Park will receive $225,000 for improvements, which include replacing the current blacktop surface with a concrete.” (“Wausau City Council Gives Nod To Conversion To LED Lights, Skateboard Park Upgrades”, Wausau Pilot & Review, 4/27/2022)


$65 Million For Projects In Alabama Including An Aquatics Center, ‘Portable Basketball/Volleyball Courts,’ And ‘Broadband Within County Parks’

“A list of 35 projects are poised to get up to $61.5 million in funding through the Mobile County Commission’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act money.” (“Aquatic Center, Parks, Pay Raises: 35 Projects Identified By Mobile County For American Rescue Plan Act Funds”, AL.Com, 4/25/2022)


Multimillion-Dollar Slush Funds For Each Member Of The Cuyahoga County Council In Ohio

THE [CLEVELAND] PLAIN DEALER EDITORIAL BOARD: “The American Rescue Plan Act and its copious funding were meant to help uplift communities hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic -- not to underwrite local politicians’ favored projects. You wouldn’t know it by how Cuyahoga County Council is parceling out a good chunk of $240 million in ARPA money. Our editorial board has already criticized council’s creation of individual $6 million ‘slush funds’ for each of the 11 council members to spend basically as they see fit. Reassurances on oversight of this money were shown to be hollow when cleveland.com’s Kaitlin Durbin unearthed that County Councilmember Cheryl Stephens had promised $120,000 of her allotment to a road project even before council formally voted to distribute the money.” (Editorial, “More Cuyahoga County Council Misdirection Of ARPA Funds,” The Plain Dealer, 4/15/2022)


FLASHBACK: President Biden Infamously Couldn’t Think Of A Single Thing To Cut From His Partisan $1.9 Trillion Spending Bonanza

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: “We need Congress to pass my American Rescue Plan that deals with the immediate crisis - the urgency. Now, critics say my plan is too big, that it costs $1.9 trillion. So that’s too much. Well, let me ask them: What would they have me cut? What would they have me leave out?” (President Biden, Remarks, 2/19/2021)


Senate Republicans Repeatedly Explained That Democrats’ Windfall For State Governments Was Out Of All Proportion To States’ Actual Needs

Senate Republicans: ‘A Massive Cash Bailout For Mismanaged State And Local Governments, Multiple Times The Size Of COVID Needs,’ ‘The Parameters Of This Are So Loose That I Can't Imagine What Projects Will Be Dreamed Up To Be Spent On’

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[E]xperts agree the remaining damage to our economy does not require another multi-trillion-dollar, non-targeted band-aid…. It will not serve Americans to pile another huge mountain of debt on our grandkids for policies that even liberal economists say are poorly-targeted to current needs. … This is no time to send wheelbarrows of cash to state and local governments that they simply, factually, do not need…” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/04/2021)

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “Then there’s the $350 billion bailout for state and local governments, many of whom have already seen revenues and receipts rebound. It’s several multiples of any sober estimate of actual need.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/24/2021)
  • SEN. McCONNELL: Democrats are “sending $350 billion to bail out long-mismanaged state and local governments, multiple times the expert estimates of COVID needs.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/02/2021)
  • SEN. McCONNELL: “This isn’t a pandemic rescue package. It’s a parade of left-wing pet projects that they are ramming through during a pandemic. … A massive cash bailout for mismanaged state and local governments, multiple times the size of COVID needs...” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/05/2021)

SENATE REPUBLICAN WHIP JOHN THUNE (R-SD): “If President Biden would like to know what to cut, let me suggest starting with the bill's $350 billion slush fund for States…. A number of States actually saw higher tax revenues in 2020…. Even if the Federal Government bailed out those States that are still struggling--some, at least partially, because of their own mismanagement--$350 billion far exceeds the amount that would be needed. Democrats are simply providing a large and unnecessary giveaway to States with the distribution formula heavily weighted in favor of blue States.” (Sen. Thune, Congressional Record, S.968, 3/01/2021)

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): “If you look at state revenues year over year, they’re barely down, they’re not even down 1%. You got a state like California, their revenues are up $19 billion dollars, they’re going to put $22 billion dollars in reserves. We gave the state and locals $400 billion. Some states have the extra money we gave them for Medicaid has allowed them to spend money on a lot of other things. A lot of these states are seeing a significant increase in what their budgets are going to be this next year. So we can’t be doing this. $350 billion dollars.” (Sen. Scott, Press Conference, 3/03/2021)

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): “The notion that our states and municipalities are in some kind of fiscal crisis, couldn’t be more wrong. It’s just factually untrue as Senator Scott pointed out. In fact, amazingly enough, the numbers are in now for 2020. State and local tax collections were actually 20 billion dollars higher than 2019. And 2019 was an all-time record for revenue. So let me say this again. Think about this. 2020 was an all-time, record high revenue year for states and local governments across the country. Take California. If you take 2019 and 2020 and what they’re projecting for 2021, which we’re well into now, so this period of time is mostly behind us, they’re projecting 38 billion dollars more than they had projected back in 2019. They’re blowing the doors off of their estimates of their revenue. That’s what’s happening. Now, despite that, last year we gave, and if you include state and local governments, about $500 billion dollars on top of the record amount of revenue that they were already collecting. And now we’re being told they need another $350B? Really? A lot of the money we’ve sent them is still unspent. States are sitting on at least 60 billion dollars in rainy day funds.” (Sen. Toomey, Press Conference, 3/03/2021)

SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): “Twenty-one States have actually experienced revenue growth compared to 2019, 2020. Yet this bill expends $350 billion to States. This money needs to be targeted…. And the parameters of this are so loose that I can't imagine what projects will be dreamed up to be spent on.” (Sen. Capito, Congressional Record, S.977, 3/01/2021)



Related Issues: Inflation, House Democrats, Senate Democrats