As there is still more work to do at the state capitol, lawmakers have voted to extend this year’s session.
One of the items legislators have not yet gotten around to is the appropriation of the $1.8 billion that came from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
While Speaker of the House Philip Gunn would like to slowly roll out the federal stimulus dollars — half this year and half next year — Senate Appropriations Chairman Briggs Hopson believes cities and counties across the state need a bulk of the money now.
“My strong belief is those funds need to go out as soon as possible. I wish we could have done something before now,” Hopson said in early March.
One of the reasons Hopson and his peers in the Senate believe the obligating ARPA funds should be appropriated in full during the current session is the impact inflation will have on the money.
In a recent interview on Middays with Gerard Gibert, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Josh Harkins said “if you hold those any longer, your $1.8 billion is worth about 7 or 8 percent less next year.”
With the current inflation rate (7.9 percent as of February 2022), say none of the $1.8 billion is appropriated this year, that number will decrease to less than $1.66 billion. If just half of the obligating ARPA funds are appropriated, the state will lose a total of over $71 million.
On paper, the 2022 session is extended by 30 days. However, sources inside the capitol have informed SuperTalk Mississippi News that lawmakers are looking wrap everything up by this weekend, including an agreement on the ARPA funds as well as the passage of a state budget.