LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas got an allotment of $1.25B from the CARES Act that was to be used by the state for Covid-related expenses.
“When the CARES Act was passed the intention was to deal with the issue right now,” said CARES Act Steering Committee chair Elizabeth Smith.
State Senator Missy Irvin, who is also on the committee, said that they have had to show restraint when doling out funding, “It’s a difficult task to figure out how to best prioritize the spend and then also maximize the effect of the spend right so $1.25 billion sounds like a lot of money but at the end of the day here you really realize that there’s a lot of need out there.”
The committee has allocated approximately $1.1B of the total with just over $1B of that going to the Department of Health, DHS, the Department of Finance & Administration, and the Department of Commerce.
The committee has had to evolve their spending as different needs have arisen throughout the pandemic.
Irvin said, “Really, we did not anticipate how large of a scope I think that we were going to be dealing with but it really if you look at the expenditures and all that we have allocated you will see it really is all over the map.”
Smith said, “It just unfolded and we’ve been learning and we been seeing the needs, so it’s been hard.”
Currently, there is approximately $19M left for the committee to spend but there could be more as some money may not be used by some programs.
The Committee has until the end of December to spend the remaining balance, “I think it’s been difficult to really figure out no the most effective way to spend those dollars and in order to help the most people in the help the people that really had a truest need,” Irvin said.
Smith hopes that Congress will grant the states an extension and potentially more funds to work with as she said there are still needs out there because of Covid, “Of the eligible expenses we prioritize those in there yet unless we get more funding there are some things that are going to be left unattended.”
You can see the plan here.