Ohio's share of funding from the American Rescue Plan is roughly $5 billion.
Ohio still has billions of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on the table, and advocates are calling for a public planning process to ensure the needs of communities are met.
$2.7 billion of the more than $5 billion allotted to the Buckeye State have already been assigned.
William Tarter, Jr., fellow at the Center for Community Solutions, which launched the Greater Cleveland American Rescue Plan Council to examine how the dollars can be maximized, said two schools of thought are emerging.
"One that said let's get these dollars out the door to address the urgent needs of the community, and there's others who are saying, we have time, let's be methodical and deliberate," Tarter explained. "That's why we want to make sure we have a great chorus around the table that can inform those conversations."
ARPA funds need to be assigned by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by the end of 2026.
Kim Murnieks, director of the Office of Budget and Management for Gov. Mike DeWine, argued it is important to avoid investing in the creation of new programs with ongoing costs beyond when ARPA dollars run dry.
"If you look at what the state has already appropriated some of the ARPA funding dollars on things like infrastructure for our children's behavior-health hospitals," Murnieks outlined. "They're one-time costs that have lasting benefits to communities."
Tarter added ARPA dollars can specifically focus on ensuring a fair and equitable recovery by addressing housing affordability, improving health-care access and supporting workers.
"We look at the disparate impact of the pandemic, and how it impacted different portions of the population," Tarter pointed out. "And that's something that I think can be really interesting, in terms of how those dollars are spent, how they respond to the needs of various communities across the state."
Murnieks noted half of Ohio's ARPA funds were already appropriated to the state and the other went to local governments.
"So there are opportunities to approach your counties, your cities, your municipalities, or if you have a local project that you would be beneficial and funded through ARPA dollars, the state is not your only avenue," Murnieks emphasized.
Advocacy groups are calling for public input on how the money will be spent.