Last year, Gov. Mark Gordon laid out a plan to help Wyoming survive, ride, and thrive using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Most of the proposals from this planning process were approved by the state Legislature in Senate File 66. This year, government agencies have been busy implementing the application rules for these programs. While the application process is still ongoing, it is clear that the demand for the programs far exceeds the funds available.
On October 27, the State Loan and Investment Board is scheduled to review and vote on ARPA funding for the water and sanitation infrastructure proposals. This is the first program to award funds through a competitive grant application process. The Legislature has delegated administration of this program to the Office of State Lands, which has received more than 100 applications totaling nearly $225 million in proposed projects. $50 million in funding is available this year.
“These unique funds present unique opportunities for Wyoming and its communities, yet it is clear that these funds come with additional challenges,” said Governor Gordon. “I know local communities and water districts have worked hard on their applications and the work is appreciated. Still, the sheer volume of proposals is immense. There is clearly interest and need that exceeds our ability to fund them all. I would like to thank the Office of State Lands for their work in this effort, as well as the other agencies that are running similar programs without additional support.”
The governor urged that those federal funds go to projects that will benefit future generations. Additionally, the programs that the Office of State Lands administers are designed to analyze proposals to meet certain criteria related to dollars going further. In most cases, this analysis favors those projects where the applicant can provide appropriate funding. Office of State Lands staff have been working hard with applicants to work through the new system.
The other ARPA programs are also in high demand. This includes:
- Funding for Health and Human Services Capital Building, which received $85 million from the Legislature and has attracted more than $200 million in applications.
- Outdoor recreation projects. ($14 million from Legislature and $72 million for Proposals)
- Emergency Communications Equipment for Local Governments ($4.5 million from Legislature to locals with $18.8 million in applications)
- Health and Human Service Innovation Fund ($5 million from Legislature with $32 million in applications)
Further funding opportunities are emerging. This includes a $50 million program available to local governments to apply for ARPA-enabled projects. A program to test more coordinated and regional approaches to emergency medical service delivery will also be available shortly.
Congress recently passed several other new programs, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This law also sends more funds to states that can be used for freeway projects and water and sewage infrastructure. In addition, states and local governments can apply for competitive grants. This federal law will also bring significant funding to Wyoming for broadband.