Rhode Island Creates Website To Share Ideas For Rescue Funds

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's legislature has created a website to post the proposals it's receiving for spending federal funds to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Rhode Island was allocated $1.1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds. Democratic Gov. Dan McKee is urging the legislature to start spending. He has said that Rhode Island is the only state in the Northeast that has not spent any of its federal pandemic relief funding yet.

The General Assembly created a section on its website for residents to see all of the ideas that are being suggested. The goal is to increase transparency.

“With such a large infusion of federal funding, it is critical that the process of allocating these funds is done in a transparent manner that allows the public to access the information being shared with legislators.” House Speaker Joe Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat, said in a statement. “We encourage the public to be engaged so we use this money to its maximum benefit for Rhode Islanders.”

Submitting a recommendation to the portal should not be viewed as a formal request for funding and it does not guarantee a response, public hearing or appropriation from the General Assembly, the legislature said.

McKee wants to spend about $113 million on essential needs including affordable housing, support for small businesses and bonuses for child care workers. He outlined a plan for doing so this month. The House and Senate Finance Committees are considering the proposal.