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Oklahoma legislative committee picks projects for the last of the state's ARPA pandemic relief funds

Kateleigh Mills

Two years and nearly $2 billion later, the Oklahoma Legislature is set to assign the last of its money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

President Joe Biden signed ARPA into law in early 2021, earmarking money for state, tribal and local governments to help their communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oklahoma’s state government received nearly $2 billion. To divvy it up, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding had to select from project applications totaling $18 billion in requested funds. The committee’s listed priorities for the money included broadband, water and sewer infrastructure, and workforce development.

The committee recommended projects to receive the last of the state’s ARPA funding on Friday. But Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, told fellow committee members that their job isn’t quite done yet.

“Of course, getting the money out the door was the first piece,” Hilbert said. “But the second and probably even more important piece is oversight, making sure that these dollars are going where they're supposed to be going.”

The full legislature still needs to approve these most recent funding recommendations, and recipient projects will need to spend the money by the end of 2026.

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Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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