Groups Create New Tool to Track Ohio's Billions of Remaining ARPA Dollars

About $2 billion remains with flexible uses

click to enlarge $1.4 billion of Ohio's American Rescue Plan Act allocation went to the state's unemployment compensation fund. - (Adobe Stock)
(Adobe Stock)
$1.4 billion of Ohio's American Rescue Plan Act allocation went to the state's unemployment compensation fund.

Ohio has more than one-third remaining of the $5.4 billion dollars allocated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Act, and a new tool is keeping an eye on how the state is distributing those funds.

Kelsey Bergfeld, director of Advocates for Ohio's Future, which partnered with the Ohio Poverty Law Center to launch the Ohio ARPA Tracker, explained it will help Ohioans to better understand the policy priorities and decisions elected officials are making, and opportunities for advocacy for the remaining dollars.

"We've seen dollars go towards the pediatric hospitals, we've seen dollars be invested into state parks and trails and recreation and water and sewer projects," Bergfeld outlined. "We saw a large allocation go to our Appalachian region."

The biggest chunk of state fiscal recovery dollars — nearly $1.5 billion — have been used to replenish the Ohio Unemployment Compensation Trust fund. And Bergfeld noted there is about $2 billion remaining in state fiscal recovery dollars with flexible uses.

Local counties and municipalities and townships received a portion of $5.3 billion in local fiscal recovery funds. The tracker highlights the spending of several large metropolitan areas.

Susan Jagers, executive director of the Ohio Poverty Law Center, said money has really focused on meeting the needs of the community.

"Like expand broadband, support businesses, fund food banks and other human-service needs," pointed out. "Fund public health and housing and workforce development. So there's really a wide range of uses that city and county governments have used."

Jagers added it is hoped state leaders will focus remaining dollars on similar areas, including food, housing, and access to health care.

"With lots of other programs and funding being exhausted to address the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, we hope the next billion or two billion fund really the basics to really support families as they continue to recover."

Some of the dollars are appropriated through the legislative process and other allocations are through the state controlling board. ARPA funding needs to be appropriated by the end of 2024 and spent by 2026.