Gordon Shows Where Wyoming Plans to Allocate COVID Relief Funds
Governor Mark Gordon announced in a press release where the state plans to allocate funds it received from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Gordon set up the Wyoming Survive, Drive, and Thrive task force last year to determine how to use federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, with several of its proposal approved by the Wyoming legislature in Senate File 66.
This includes things like $185 million to the Office of State Lands and Investments, $60 million to the governor's office, $45,883,894 to the Wyoming Department of Health, and $43,832,058 to the Department of Transportation.
State agencies have been implementing application rules for various programs including $15 million for the construction of rural clinics, $50 million for water and sewer infrastructure, $1 million for mental health support for first responders, and $10 million for workforce programs.
All told, the funds allocated for the 30 different programs total $381,352,000.
Gordon said in the release:
"These one-time funds offer unique opportunities for Wyoming and her communities, still it is clear that additional challenges accompany these funds," Gordon said. "I know that local communities and water districts have worked hard on their applications, and that work is appreciated. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of proposals is immense. Clearly, there is interest and need that outstrips our ability to fund them all. I want to thank the Office of State Lands for their work on this effort, as well as the other agencies running similar programs without additional support."
Congress also recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which includes funding for highway projects, water and sewer infrastructure, competitive grants, and funding for broadband.
Renny MacKay, the policy director with Gordon's Office, said at a Joint Appropriations Committee meeting on Thursday that Wyoming didn't support the Inflation Reduction Act but could still get some benefits from the bill.
This is not something our delegation supported, the governor has significant concerns about this, but there are definitely some grants that we want to be aware of and some areas that we may want to take a look at as we go forward...there is funding available for ag and forestry," MacKay said. "Some of this can and may end up in Wyoming because we're talking about habitat conservation and so there are definitely some potential incentives for private landowners who are engaged in conservation through that. So some of these programs we've really done some good work to help private landowners who are doing things on sage grouse, on sagebrush ecosystems...these are going to be much more application based or individuals seeking those federal dollars. Ag and forestry, that program could encapsulate some of the things we do with the [Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust] that are voluntary incentive-based programs, there's $20 billion nationally on that one. Some that could be something we're applying for to help, but that will be spread out across the entire country."