Planning begins for RI to spend $2.5 billion of federal infrastructure law

PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) — Rhode Island officials are beginning to determine how the state should spend billions of dollars in federal funding that is expected to flow under the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, officials said Tuesday.

Brian Daniels, director of RI’s Office of Management and Budget, told lawmakers during a Senate Finance Committee hearing that the White House released 465 pages of guidance for states earlier this week on the access to money.

“This is a whole-of-government type initiative,” Daniels said. “We want to make sure the dollars are deployed strategically and that we don’t miss any opportunities.”

President Biden signed the infrastructure law in November. The state expects to receive about $2.5 billion in funding under the law, including $1.5 billion for highway projects, as well as hundreds of millions each for bridges, transportation public and water infrastructure.

Daniels said his office plans to work closely with Gov. Dan McKee’s staff and individual state agencies to determine how best to use Infrastructure Act funding, including determining what pot of money. Federal money makes the most sense for individual projects to maximize its use. .

The $2.5 billion infrastructure infusion — expected to flow into the state over the next five fiscal years — is the latest major round of federal funding to flow into Rhode Island since the pandemic began.

The House Fiscal Office estimated last year that Congress had provided the Rhode Island government with $6.7 billion in pandemic relief funds since March 2020 through six different statutes. (That amount excluded the infrastructure measure.) The temporary increase in federal funding has helped boost the state’s annual budget from about $10 billion before the pandemic to more than $13 billion now.

The largest pots of pandemic-related federal funding the state has received include $1.25 billion in 2020 from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund and $1.13 billion last year from the Fund. stimulus package from the American Rescue Plan Act.

As part of the Senate finance hearing, McKee administration officials offered updates on how much of those rounds of federal money has yet to be spent.

Lawmakers voted last month to spend an initial $119 million of US bailout funding, and McKee has proposed spending the remaining $1 billion in his recently released budget plan, which is now before the House. general.

Dorothy Pascale, the state comptroller who until recently also ran the Pandemic Recovery Office, said all but $4.3 million of the CARES Act’s $1.25 billion has now been paid. allocated and that the federal government had given the states an extension until September to pay the money. outside.

The largest portion of the $1.25 billion was $343.5 million used to cover state personnel expenses, followed by $220.5 million for the Hospital Assistance Partnership Program which has provided grants to local hospitals that lost revenue during the pandemic.

A breakdown of how the state spent its $1.25 billion Federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund. (credit: RI Administration Department)

Ted Nesi ([email protected]) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and a 12 News political/economics editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn and Instagram

An earlier version of this story stated that Dorothy Pascale currently runs the Pandemic Recovery Office; she left that role.

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