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Here’s what’s in Governor Dan McKee’s proposal for American Rescue Plan Act funds

“Of the $113 million McKee proposes spending, four in ten dollars are dedicated to helping businesses,” writes Andy Boardman. “About a third goes to programs for kids, while another quarter is allocated to housing. A small share, less than one percent, is set aside for broadband.”
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Published on October 8, 2021
By Andy Boardman

On Thursday, Governor Dan McKee unveiled his proposal to spend ten percent of Rhode Island’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. The governor’s budget blueprint directs $113 million to priorities including business aid, support for the child care sector, construction of affordable housing and access to broadband.

McKee submitted the plan to the General Assembly, teeing up lawmakers’ process of review. “To ensure Rhode Island maintains its strong economic momentum,” McKee wrote to legislative leaders, “we must put some of our ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Funds to work now.”

Here’s what’s in the $113 million proposal:

The largest portion of the budget, $45 million, is devoted to supporting businesses in Rhode Island. That includes $12.5 million to provide immediate financial assistance to companies impacted by the pandemic, plus $8 million to bolster the hospitality and recreation industry. Another $2 million would fund tourism marketing for the state.

The next-largest part: $39 million for a range of programs to support child wellbeing and the child care sector. Under McKee’s plan, child care workers would receive bonuses of up to $2,000 — an initiative aiming to retain and attract employees in that essential segment of the economy. Similarly, direct-care workers providing services to the state Department of Children Youth and Families would be eligible for bonus pay of roughly $700 per month for 12 months. An additional $5.5 million goes to Early Intervention programs that aid infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities and delays.

The governor’s budget plan also dedicates $29 million to advancing housing affordability and security. Nearly half of these funds — $15 million — are directed to developing affordable housing. Another $12 million will finance a program that acquires housing for Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness and housing instability. McKee proposes $1.5 million to provide housing navigation, stabilization and mental health services.

Finally, the governor has a $500,000 plan to begin the process of expanding broadband internet access — including creating a state broadband coordinator position, mapping current service and developing a strategy for improving coverage.

In all, the budget request outlines the governor’s bid to use a first slice of the state’s $1.13 billion American Rescue Plan funds. Of the $113 million McKee proposes spending, four in ten dollars are dedicated to helping businesses. About a third goes to programs for kids, while another quarter is allocated to housing. A small share, less than one percent, is set aside for broadband.

Next, it’s up to the General Assembly — and the people of Rhode Island — to voice their priorities.

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