The state’s top officials announced they are working to secure a 10% investment using the state’s allocated American Rescue Plan Act dollars to stimulate the Rhode Island Rebounds initiative.
Gov. Dan McKee was joined by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, D-Providence, and House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Harmony, to announce support of the $119 million investment in the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The state received $1.1 billion in ARPA funding.
“Our Administration is committed to delivering support for home and community-based direct care workers and ensuring that children with developmental needs receive the services they need,” McKee said. “I also thank the Speaker and the Senate President for their partnership and their commitment to act on our RI Rebounds plan which will provide much-needed relief for children, families, housing, and small businesses. This is an important step – we must keep going.”
McKee filed a budget amendment with the General Assembly in October requesting the 10% investment of ARPA funds in the state’s immediate future as part of the initiative.
The plan would put $38.5 million into supporting children, families, and social supports that would include funding for the child care industry, McKee said. Additionally, $32 million would be invested in small businesses directly affected by the pandemic, $29 million would be used to support affordable housing and house stability, and an additional $13 million would be used to aid the tourism, hospitality, and event industry.
Ruggerio and Shekarchi supported the initial 10% funding and said their respective chambers would act swiftly so that, if passed, the funding would be ready in early January 2022.
“The House has been collaboratively working with the Senate and Governor McKee for several months to ensure that the ARPA funding is spent wisely and invested in a long-term sustainable manner,” Shekarchi said. “After several hearings, our House Finance Committee will soon consider an initial investment of $119 million for affordable housing, children’s and family services, child care, and assistance for small businesses and the tourism and hospitality industries.”
Shekarchi said the plan would also invest $3 million in CARES funding for early intervention services, in addition to $57.4 million that will be invested in medical assistance funding to aid home- and community-based direct care workers.
The $57.4 million investment in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding will be used to retain workers through hiring bonuses, increased hourly wages, enhancing benefits packages, and calling for shift differential pay and training.
Ruggerio praised the work of the Senate Finance Committee, which “met for more than 28 hours over the course of the fall to review federal relief spending plans.”
The trio of elected officials said child care was a priority.
“This is critically important,” Ruggerio said. “The industry is in crisis, and we can’t get people back to work if they can’t get child care.”
This article was originally posted on Rhode Island set to make down payment on RI Rebounds initiative