Joint committee recommends approval of first ARPA projects
OKLAHOMA CITY – The State of Oklahoma has received $1.87 billion in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act. This funding is meant to bolster the state’s financial recovery relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Oklahoma has received over $7.7 billion in requests to spend ARPA dollars from various groups around the state.
Months ago, the state created a collaborative process between the executive and legislative branches to identify the state’s needs and determine how federal funding will be spent to make transformative impacts. Recently, the legislative Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding made its first recommendations on two funding opportunities.
The committee approved $2,030,000 in funding for a statewide broadband asset map and another $7,500,000 toward the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital emergency department for behavioral health-focused expansion. These recommendations now move to a steering committee made up of executive and legislative leadership before the projects are sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt for final approval.
“We have been carefully deliberating the proposals presented to us,” said Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston. “There are several priorities we have identified and I am proud of the selections we have made so far.”
“The Legislature is taking a methodical approach and following an arduous process,” said Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah. “We value public input and want Oklahomans to know we are here and ready to hear what they have to say. These decisions will impact many generations to come.”
“Oklahoma has an unprecedented opportunity to put dollars toward real change for our citizens,” said Oklahoma Chief Operating Officer Steven Harpe. “I am very thankful for the executive and legislative leadership working together to be intentional with project selections and prioritizing the vision to advance our state in a major way.”
Project proposals may be submitted at oklahoma.gov/arpa. If a project aligns with priorities identified by the joint committee, it may be assigned to one of the four legislative working groups to evaluate. As mentioned above, working groups make recommendations to the joint committee and if the joint committee votes to approve the project, those selections head to the steering committee before final approval from the governor.
States must allocate dollars by Dec. 31, 2024, and spend funds by Dec. 31, 2026.