By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming is likely to receive more than $1 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds later this year, Gov. Mark Gordon’s office announced Thursday.
Gordon has appointed a diverse group of stakeholders to develop a blueprint for using and distributing the funds provided to the state through the American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden’s stimulus bill.
Current estimates show the state will receive $1.1 billion in addition to the millions of other dollars being distributed to citizens through tax rebates and to local governments and other entities from the federal government.
Gordon said he wants to identify needs and opportunities that could be addressed with the funds, as well as develop a budget to optimize the distribution.
“Wyoming will survive the impacts of COVID, drive through our period of recovery and set up the conditions for us to thrive in the long-term,” Gordon said. “It is imperative to emphasize long-term benefits because this funding has increased the debt for future generations.”
He stressed collaboration between the Legislature and the executive branch will be required to maximize the benefits of these resources for the people of Wyoming.
“I am committed to working with the Legislature to ensure that we use the funds effectively and responsibly, and that we seek to develop big ideas that will have significant and long-lasting impacts” Gordon said. “Wyoming won’t see these funds for some time, allowing us to develop a plan to ensure these dollars benefit citizens for years to come.”
The American Rescue Plan included $350 billion in aid to states and local governments. Guidance from the federal government on the use of the funds is expected to be issued in May, but unlike the federal CARES Act funding distributed last year, Wyoming will have nearly four years to spend the money.
The governor wants to focus on three areas in identifying the most significant problems Wyoming is facing due to this pandemic and then use the federal money to address the highest priorities within those areas. The areas are:
- Health and Social Services
- Education and Workforce
- Economic Diversity and Economic Development
Reviews into each focus area will be led by a member of the executive branch in collaboration with the governor’s office.
Gordon stressed the importance of using these one-time funds for one-time expenses.