Arkansas receives second $786.6 million; now, where to spend?

By Steve Brawner
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas has a good problem to have: What should it do with $842 million in federal funds sitting in the bank? That amount – actually $841,965,067.52 – is what’s left of money coming from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

It provided $195 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The act also provided $130 billion for local governments.

Arkansas has received two tranches each of $786,560,790.40. The second arrived May 19. The first came in June 2021. So far, $55.4 million has not been allocated from the first tranche. The money was transferred to the Arkansas ARP Steering Committee Holding Fund. States have until the end of 2024 to obligate the money, and until the end of 2026 to actually spend it.

The 20 states with higher unemployment rates received their full amount last year, while the rest, including Arkansas, received half last year and the rest this year. Funds can be used to replace lost public sector revenue; respond to the pandemic’s public health and economic impacts; provide premium pay for essential workers; and invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

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