Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann is urging local leaders to look at the long term impact of spending federal COVID-19 relief funds.
State and local governments are in line for money under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the COVID-19 relief bill that President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11.
Hosemann has been traveling around Mississippi to ensure that state lawmakers and local governments do not duplicate their efforts on the relief funding.
While visiting Meridian on Friday, he shared his vision for how the funding should be used, emphasizing that leaders should focus on projects with long-term impacts.
“What is absolutely critical to me is that we not spend this on a one-year or a two-year program,” Hosemann said to leaders at the Lauderdale County Courthouse. “This needs to be a one-generation or a two-generation program.”
Lauderdale County District 5 Supervisor Kyle Rutledge told The Meridian Star that Hosemann’s idea of using the funding for generational change is “a great idea.”
He said the funds shouldn’t be used for reoccurring expenses, but for projects that will last for multiple generations.
Lauderdale County is set to receive $14.4 million from the American Rescue Plan, according to preliminary estimates published by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The City of Meridian is slated to receive $8.2 million, and the Town of Marion is set to receive $337,087, according to the estimates.
The American Rescue Plan will also provide an estimated $1.8 billion to the state government, which will be appropriated by the legislature, according to Mississippi Today. State Sen. Jeff Tate (R-District 33) said that after the state finds out the exact amount of money it will receive and gets guidance on the funding, state lawmakers should pause to consider how to use the money.
In addition to giving funding to state and local governments, the American Rescue Plan provides funding for K-12 education, higher education and capital projects, according to Mississippi Today. Overall, Mississippi is estimated to receive about $6 billion.
Additionally, Hosemann estimated the act will send about $3.4 billion to individual Mississippians. Some of that money is in the form of stimulus payments, which most taxpayers have already received.
Other money involves tax credits for children, enhanced unemployment benefits and other benefits, according to Mississippi Today. This means that overall, the state will receive more than $9 billion from the American Rescue Plan.
“It’s a staggering amount of money,” Hosemann told The Meridian Star.
In his address to East Mississippi leaders, Hosemann said that the state Legislature and local governments can use the funding for water, sewer, broadband, tourism and, in some cases, economic development.
Hosemann also shared with the crowd the accomplishments made by lawmakers during this year’s session. He also toured Key Field Air National Guard Base Friday afternoon.