The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, signed into law by President Biden in March, will direct close to $4 billion in assistance to Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders over the next few years. The funds, designed to provide for both short-term relief and investments in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, fall into the following three buckets:
- $1.78 billion in state aid ($1.24 billion) and local aid ($542 million) from the U. S. Treasury Department.
- $900+ million in aid from various federal departments for targeted investments including: K-12 education ($415M); Higher Education ($180M); Child Care ($93M); Housing ($225M, for emergency rental and homeowner assistance); LIHEAP ($30M); and Pandemic Emergency Assistance Funds ($4.4M, to meet short-term needs of families with children).
- $1.22 billion in direct assistance to individuals through stimulus checks; additional assistance through child tax credits, enhanced UI benefits, and expanded earned income tax credits, as well as PPP loans for businesses and further relief for restaurants.
The state and local aid is being provided for the following purposes:
- to support the public health response to the pandemic
- to respond to the adverse economic effects of the pandemic
- to offer extra pay for essential workers
- to replace state and local revenue lost due to the pandemic
- to improve water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure
Funds can be used to address short-term needs as well as for longer-term investments.
More information from the U.S. Treasury about the state and local funds can be found here:
- S. Treasury Quick Reference Guide on State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRP-Fact-Sheet-FINAL1-508A.pdf
- S. Treasury Fact Sheet on State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRP-Quick-Reference-Guide-FINAL-508a.pdf
- Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-05-17/pdf/2021-10283.pdf
The Governor’s Office and the Rhode Island Foundation have established ways for the community to ‘weigh in’ on how the $1.2B in funds should be used. Some of the funds may be allocated in the 2022 budget to be adopted in June. It is likely that the General Assembly will return in the fall to make decisions about more substantial use of the funds for the coming year. Here are ways to get involved:
- You can participate in the Governor’s conversations: Conversations 2030, a series of themed Facebook events hosted by Governor Dan McKee, https://www.ri2030.com/.
- You can contribute ideas to the Rhode Island Foundation at: www.rifoundation.org/arpideas.
- You can also contact your senator and representative to let them know what needs should be addressed with the $1.2B. You can find your senator and representative here: https://vote.sos.ri.gov/.
If you are interested in giving input on the use of funds that your city or town will receive, contact your city/town hall to ask about the process.