General Assembly approves $119 million ARPA spending plan

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The Rhode Island General Assembly has approved a plan for spending 10% of the state’s allotment of American Rescue Plan Act State Fiscal Recovery funds.

In a Tuesday afternoon news release, the General Assembly announced the plan passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives and was immediately signed into law by Gov Dan McKee.

The plan calls for the spending of $119 million of the state’s $1.13 billion allotment of American Rescue Plan Act’s State Fiscal Recovery Funds. Funding will be spent to benefit children, families, small businesses and tourism in the state. The state will also work to improve the affordable housing stock and broadband to the entire state.

In December, legislators had added $6 million for child care needs across the state, topping the plan that was originally proposed by McKee. Under the legislation, $38.5 million will be used to benefit children and families, $32 million will go to small businesses who were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and $29.5 million will promote affordable housing. The plan also features a $13 million investment in the tourism, hospitality and event industries.

The legislature also added reporting requirements and other accountability measures to ensure the funds are properly spent.

“Shoring up childcare in particular was a very important priority for us in the Senate,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ryan W. Pearson, D-Cumberland, Lincoln. “The availability of high-quality, affordable childcare is important for the safety and development of our children, and it is critical for our workforce and business strength as well.”

House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin L. Abney, D-Newport, Middletown, said the state has a “responsibility to spend this money in ways that help everyday Rhode Islanders move forward.”

The funding, he said, is to “ensure that our state and its institutions are able to weather the storm brough on by the pandemic.”

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