OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, Oklahoma has a couple billion dollars in relief funding.
Legislators have formed a committee to decide how to allocate the money. Then the governor will make the final decision.
State Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) is co-chair of the committee.
“We’ve got some time here to really go through and what are the priorities for the state of Oklahoma and how do we move forward on that,” he said.
$1.9 billion goes to the state to allocate, along with $238 million for smaller cities.
“If you’re a city over 50,000 [people], you’ve already received the first traunch of that money,” Thompson said.
There are four areas the money can be used for: the public health emergency and economic impacts; essential workers; help with lost revenue in governments; and broadband, water, and sewer infrastructure.
Thompson says he wants to focus on broadband.
“That’s probably going to be number one on my list. We need that for health, we need that for education across the state, and I believe it’s probably once in a lifetime opportunity for us to make a real difference in the lives of people in Oklahoma,” he said.
The state can’t use the money on things like savings.
Thompson says his team is working on a portal so Oklahomans can give input on how they think the money should be spent.
He says he’d like to have that up and running by September at the latest.
“Oklahomans will be able to submit ideas and say, ‘hey, we need this in our community,’ and I’m getting a number of these already sent to my office,” he said.
Officials have to decide how to spend that money by 2024 and spend it by 2026.