Legislature Gears up for $2.7 Billion from Federal Recovery Plan
The State of Montana is due to receive approximately $2.7 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Sue Vinton of House District 56 in Yellowstone County briefly spoke to KGVO News on Monday about the monies that will be allocated to Montana.
“Just this morning the joint appropriations committees from both the Senate and the House met,” said Vinton. “We've since broken off into smaller groups. We've been charged with looking at what we know so far about the requirements of spending and allocating those funds. We're going to try to come up with something as quickly as we can, knowing that we won't have all the details anytime real soon.”
Vinton described some of the areas that are under consideration for the state to spend from the federal government.
“There are many restrictions and there are even different categories of restrictions,” she said. “It looks to us like the broadest use of the federal funds will be in infrastructure, so we're looking at those types of programs first, such as water, sewer, broadband, but of course a great deal of the money will be going to education.”
Vinton said it will be a challenge to allocate the funds while the 2021 Legislative Session is going on.
“It seems like a monumental task for us to have this entirely figured out before the end of the session, which is only a few weeks away,” she said. “In addition, we don't have all of the information from the federal government yet. I just don’t know if we'll generally try to devise a bill that will allow flexibility in allocating the funds as they become available.”
Vinton said there are mechanisms that can be utilized to bring lawmakers together to address such issues as the nearly $3 billion in federal funds.
“We may need to reconvene not as a full legislature but maybe as an interim committee of some sort to further review the funds as more information comes available,” she said. “The governor has told us that he would not have voted for that if he had still been in Congress, but the money is going to be on the table, and we're going to use it.”
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