Mississippi will receive $1.8 billion through the establishment of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Leaders in the Mississippi Legislature are studying the American Rescue Plan, which provides $1.78 billion to the state, to see where money will be appropriated in the 2022 session. Legislators are not in session now, so it could be January before they start deciding how to spend the money.
Within the $1.8 billion that is going to the Mississippi Legislature, $369 million will be given to both large and small cities, including $268 million that will be split among cities and towns with fewer than 50,000 residents, and $578 million will be distributed to counties.
The American Rescue Plan Act was implemented by Congress and approved by President Joe Biden in order to provide direct relief to Americans, contain COVID-19, and rescue the economy. The Administration says it will change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate relief for American workers. Supporters say the plan will build a bridge to an equitable economic recovery and immediately reduce child poverty.
“One of the biggest issues in the next session is how to distribute the $1.8 billion that has come down in the American Rescue Plan Act. Lt. Governor Hosemann has actually been traveling the district talking to business and industry leaders as well as elected officials to hear their needs,” said State Senator Daniel Sparks (R). “I think everyone wants to make sure that we spend this money not just on stop gaps or fill in budgets, but that we take the money and launch us into the next 20 years.”
The funds the state receives could be included in the state budget that legislators are working on now ahead of January. The decision on where this money goes could have a major impact on Mississippi.
“I have met with about fifty different county boards and supervisors over the last six weeks and we are discussing what the requirements of the act are: which is water, sewer, broadband, tourism, loss revenue, and public health. Those issues are what we’ve been speaking with them about and answering their questions on what they can and cannot spend that money on” says Lt. Governor Hosemann, “We want to utilize those funds not for the next one or two years, but the next one or two generations. We should work together in sourcing the funds for those issues.”
Lt. Governor Hosemann said that it is important for the counties and towns in Mississippi to determine how they will spend the money awarded to them because it could impact the future of their town.
“This is an opportunity to not only meet our immediate needs but to also invest in the future of our state. If the federal regulations concerning these funds will allow, I propose the following blueprint to address our immediate needs and to lay out an investment strategy that will yield a return and create a brighter future for all Mississippians,” Senator Chad McMahan wrote in a recent Op-ed for Y’all Politics.
The Treasury Department said state and local governments can use the federal money for public health matters and for economic problems resulting from the pandemic that impacted workers, households, small businesses, industries, and government. The money could also be used to replace tax revenue that was lost because of COVID-19 and provide extra compensation for essential workers.
The first half of the $1.8 billion coming into the state of Mississippi has been received. This funding has relatively few restrictions, though it does have to be spent by 2024. The package also includes over $1-billion for municipalities and counties.