U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, announced details of his State and Municipal Aid for Recovery and Transition Act during a teleconference on Tuesday. If passed, the legislation would provide $500 billion to states in support funds to replace tax revenue lost due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Cassidy said projections indicate states are set to have lost $300 billion over the next 27 months. These projections hit Louisiana especially hard as "we just skipped the major part of tourism year," he said referencing events like New Orleans' Jazz Fest and local festivals.
Modeling indicates that without additional federal aid states could see more than a two-percentage point drop in gross domestic product and cost nearly 3 million in additional layoffs, he said.
If approved, the funding would be distributed in three phases, Cassidy said.
First, money will be distributed based on population and the current budget crisis.
"Louisiana doesn't win there," he said.
Money will secondly be distributed at the end of June based on the impact coronavirus had upon the physical health of residents and thirdly based on the financial impact the virus had on a community.
With 42-46 percent of Louisiana's state revenue taking a hit, Cassidy said the state is set to see considerable benefits from the SMART Act in the second and third disbursements.
The bill also allows existing coronavirus relief funds to be used by local municipalities to address their needs, he added, but cannot be used to bail out mismanaged states.
Cassidy said Trump and the U.S. House of Representatives have indicated their support of the bipartisan legislation. It is expected to be heard before the full House within the next two weeks.
He additionally expressed his thoughts regarding the state's phase one opening procedures and the 25 percent rule maximum capacity rule for re-opening certain business.
"It's hard to give nuance in large state policy," he said.
Rather than focusing solely on maximum capacity, businesses should be equally concerned with "how do you maintain social distancing (while inside)?" he said.
Regarding Moderna's coronavirus vaccine he said, "Obviously it's promising, encouraging, but there's a long ways to go. You have to prove it's safe."
Cassidy said Congress has approved for 200 million doses to be produced, ready to be distributed only if safety and efficacy trials prove effective against the virus.
"We, in Congress, decided it was better to be a little potentially wasteful to have the vaccine ready to go as soon as possible as opposed to waiting for everything to be proven."