Interest in Programs Aimed to Survive, Drive and Thrive using ARPA Funding Far Outpace Supply
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Last year, Governor Mark Gordon set up a plan to help Wyoming Survive, Drive and Thrive using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Most of the proposals from that planning process were approved by the State Legislature in Senate File 66. This year, state agencies have been busy implementing application rules for these programs. While the application review process is ongoing, it is clear that demand for the programs is far greater than the amount of funding available.
On October 27 the State Loan and Investment Board is set to review and vote on ARPA funding for the water and sewer infrastructure proposals. This is the first program that will issue funding through a competitive grant application process. The Legislature assigned administration of this program to the Office of State Lands, which has received more than 100 applications totaling nearly $225 million in proposed projects. There are $50 million in funds available this year.
“These one-time funds offer unique opportunities for Wyoming and her communities, still it is clear that additional challenges accompany these funds,” Governor Gordon said. “I know that local communities and water districts have worked hard on their applications, and that work is appreciated. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of proposals is immense. Clearly, there is interest and need that outstrips our ability to fund them all. I want to thank the Office of State Lands for their work on this effort, as well as the other agencies running similar programs without additional support.”
The Governor pushed for these federal funds to go to projects that benefit future generations. In addition, the programs the Office of State Lands is administering were designed to analyze proposals to meet certain criteria related to making dollars go further. In most instances, this analysis favors those projects in which the applicant can supply matching funds. The Office of State Lands staff has worked hard with applicants to work through the new system.
The other ARPA programs are also seeing high demand. That includes:
- Funding for Health and Human Services capital construction, which received $85 million from the Legislature and has attracted more than $200 million in applications.
- Outdoor recreation projects. ($14 million from the Legislature and $72 million in applications)
- Emergency communications equipment for local governments ($4.5 million from the Legislature to locals with $18.8 million in applications)
- Health and Human Service Innovation fund ($5 million from the Legislature with $32 million in applications)
There are additional funding opportunities on the horizon. This includes a program with $50 million available for local governments to apply for ARPA-eligible projects. A program to pilot more coordinated and regional approaches to delivering Emergency Medical Services will also soon be available.
Congress has recently passed several other new programs, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This Act also sends more funding to states that can be used for highway projects and water and sewer infrastructure. Additionally, states and local governments can apply for competitive grants. This federal Act will also bring significant funding for broadband to Wyoming.