Mississippi will officially receive $1.8 billion through the establishment of the ‘Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund’ as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
In total, the fund launched by the U.S. Department of the Treasury will distribute $350 billion to state and local governments to “respond to acute pandemic-response needs, fill revenue shortfalls among state and local governments, and support the communities and populations hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis.”
In a news release, the department explained that states have the “broad flexibility” to spend the funds in a variety of ways to best fit their needs.
- Support public health expenditures, by – among other uses – funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, mental health and substance misuse treatment and certain public health and safety personnel responding to the crisis;
- Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including by rehiring public sector workers, providing aid to households facing food, housing or other financial insecurity, offering small business assistance, and extending support for industries hardest hit by the crisis
- Aid the communities and populations hardest hit by the crisis, supporting an equitable recovery by addressing not only the immediate harms of the pandemic, but its exacerbation of longstanding public health, economic and educational disparities
- Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have borne and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service during the pandemic; and,
- Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, improving access to clean drinking water, supporting vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and expanding access to broadband internet.
The flexibility of the new round of funding will be a sharp contrast to the $1.25 billion that Mississippi received through the CARES Act. How Mississippi will spend this latest windfall is something that Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann believes must be carefully thought through.
The Legislature will likely be tasked with allocating the funds after they seized control of the ability to do so during the distribution of the CARES Act money in what became a public feud with the governor.
Additional funds from the American Rescue Plan will be given directly to Mississippi Department of Education, local city governments and universities & colleges across the state.