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Study: Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill creates inequities in climate funding

Headwaters Economics says small communities might have trouble accessing those funds because of match requirements.

DENVER — The Biden Administration estimates Colorado is getting $375 million out of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to help communities in Colorado fight the impacts of climate change and extreme weather. 

A new study says small communities might have trouble accessing those funds.

Headwaters Economics, a research group focused on community development, says more than 60% of so-called resilience funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requires local governments to match at least some percentage of federal funding. 

The study describes the match requirement as barrier to small or rural communities, which either can't afford to match the federal funding or lose out to bigger communities who can put up more money. 

In 2021, the state allocated $80 million to help local communities meet match requirements for federal grant money. 

The Headwaters study noted that Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights keeps local governments from raising the money they'd need to match grant funding. Similar policies limit local government spending in 32 other states.

The study concluded that these federal grants will reinforce inequities unless the requirements change. One proposed solution is that grant programs are revised so rural, underserved, and lower-capacity communities have separate funding pool with different or waived match requirements. 

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