$80 Million In COVID Relief Projects Approved For Hearing In Special Session
News 9 - June 8, 2022 5:59 am
OKLAHOMA CITY –
Six projects worth a total of nearly $80 million passed out of the joint committee on pandemic relief funding Tuesday.
Those measures are set to be voted on by the legislature during Monday’s special session.
Lawmakers prioritized a large majority of the funding for health care projects – including new and expanded hospitals.
A health and human services working group met before the joint committee to hear proposals.
Projects that passed include $15 million to complete the new Northeastern State University School of Optometry.
Investments in Oklahoma’s nursing workforce through Career Tech programs seek to produce 2,500 additional licensed healthcare workers in the next five years.
Lawmakers approved $25 million for a Nonprofit Recovery program with a priority to distribute money to nonprofits that applied for ARPA funds.
An expansion of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Center could be completed with an approved $39.4 million.
And – half a million was approved to open a new State Broadband Office.
The committee is working to spend about $1 billion in federal COVID relief money.
There were about 1,400 proposals submitted.
The money must be appropriated by 2024 – and spent by 2026.
“Really making sure we’re being strategic with these dollars, whether it’s a $100 million project, or a million-dollar project, what can we do to move the needle to really make a difference for all 4 million Oklahomans,” said Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow.
On Monday, the third special session is also set to begin concurrently.
That session was called by Governor Stitt to discuss eliminating the state grocery tax and personal tax relief.
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy released a statement in support of today’s work by the committee.
“True to their word, the members of the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding have elevated priority issues surrounding the health and well-being of Oklahomans in need,” said director Joe Dorman.