Virtual Townhall Held to Discuss Wyoming’s COVID-19 Relief Funds
On Friday, Renny MacKay, Governor Mark Gordon's policy director, held a virtual townhall to talk about how the state will allocate funds Wyoming received from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) that passed in March.
ARPA included $1.9 trillion to help states, like Wyoming, stay afloat and recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The townhall touched on several areas that Gordon's task force, which was launched by Gordon in June, is hoping to help the state "survive, drive, and thrive."
The team is made up of five members: director of the Department of Workforce Services Robin Cooley, the director of Department of Family Services Korin Schmidt, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council Josh Dorrell, director of the Department of Health Stefan Johansson.
MacKay said Gordon will send his proposals to the joint appropriations committee for what the state should do with the money on Dec. 16, which will then vote on what to send to the full legislature for their February session.
The governor's website lists the 10 different goals the state hopes to address with the money allocated, and so far MacKay said that they have been allocated $534 million, and will get another $534 million in early 2022.
Based on the current funds requested for a variety of issues, the state would need $2,893,066,693 to address all of them, less than the $1,068,000,000 the state will be given from ARPA, which will be whittled down by Gordon before he presents it to the legislature.
Some of those goals, like goal two, "strengthen Wyoming’s economy and revenue streams," have over two dozen items and totals $635,924,665, while goal seven, "food supply and food pantries," is only requesting $3 million to "Study how to maximize state and local distribution of donated and publicly purchased food."
Some of the proposals listed like, as Cooley said at the townhall, the first phase of the Wyoming Innovation Partnership, have already been funded with $27 million of ARPA funds.
While discussions around where to spend ARPA funds are happening now, and the public are able to provide comment up until January, the state has until 2026 to allocate the funding.