COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Tuesday the state of Ohio outlined its plan to spend more than $2 billion in federal pandemic funding. The money is from the American Rescue Plan Act, and will be doled out to several programs.
This year Ohio gets $2.7 billion in federal funding. The bill signed by the Governor Tuesday spends about $2.2 billion of that money. The Governor says it will help the state move forward and invest in the future.
Governor DeWine says, “This is one-time money that’s coming to the state of Ohio, and we need to be good stewards of that money.”
The funding will go to four areas.
$84 million will go to improve children’s behavioral health services throughout the state. Nick Lashutka is the President and CEO of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association. He says, “There was already a pediatric behavioral health crisis prior to the pandemic, which has only been exacerbated.”
Lashutka says one in five Ohio children have a mental health condition today, but less than half of them can get the care they need. He says this funding will help “make sure that for those families and children in crisis, we’re able to meet their needs.”
$250 million will go to grants to help local municipalities address water infrastructure issues.
$422 million will be distributed to communities impacted by the pandemic. The state will start accepting applications from local governments in early July. Governor DeWine says, “The money will help cities, villages, and townships in Ohio meet the unique needs of their citizens.”
And $1.5 billion will repay a federal loan for the unemployment insurance trust fund. Advocates say repaying the loan will allow Ohio businesses to focus instead on hiring and investment, rather than being burdened with higher federal unemployment payroll taxes for years to come.
Ohio Business Round Table President Pat Tiberi says, “It’s meaningful to small, medium, and large employers across the state, that this burden is being lifted.”
Lt. Governor Jon Husted says, “That burden will go away, and it will help fuel Ohio’s recovery.”