American Rescue Plan

American Rescue Plan Act funding for communities of 50,000 or fewer people has made it to about 10% of eligible places in Oklahoma.

So far, 65 of the state’s 579 eligible cities have received a total of $37 million through a new, online state distribution system, which is still being brought to scale. The portal was initially opened to 120 smaller cities with representatives at an Oklahoma Municipal League conference in early September, and a total of 325 have now been invited to sign up for it.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A coalition of local organizations told city councilors they want to see transparency and community engagement as Tulsa spends its allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act over the next two years.

ACTION Tulsa Project Organizer Christy Emig said the $88 million the city is receiving from the coronavirus relief package represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the lives of Tulsans who are worse off just because of where they were born or the color of their skin.

Oklahoma State University

Tulsa County Commissioners on Monday approved their biggest allocation of American Rescue Plan funding to date: $4 million for the expansion of OSU Medical Center.

The medical center received $120 million from Congress for a new veterans hospital, and the City of Tulsa and private donors have given money to OSU for what’s billed as the biggest downtown development in decades. Board of County Commissioners Chair Stan Sallee said OSU has also been in talks to double the capacity of the psychiatric hospital.

Photo via Corian.com

Hospital officials told Oklahoma lawmakers on Tuesday they are struggling with the latest COVID-19 surge because there are not enough nurses to go around, hurting patient care and their bottom lines.

Groups across the political spectrum are urging state lawmakers to let them establish a system to automatically seal Oklahomans’ court and arrest records once they’ve completed their sentences.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Updated Sept. 1, 6:15 p.m.

Tulsa City Councilors on Wednesday approved a proposal to spend almost $1.8 million in federal virus relief program on a campaign encouraging employees to get vaccinated.

The city’s American Rescue Plan Working group pitched giving employees who are or who get fully vaccinated $250. They must do so by Oct. 15 to receive the stipend

Workers in departments that hit a 70% vaccination rate can receive another $250 beginning Nov. 1.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa Route 66 Commission plans to take a $1.5 million request for American Rescue Plan funds to the mayor and city council next week.

The virus relief money can be used to support industries that saw business drop during pandemic.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

As the Tulsa City Council begins consideration of a 4% employee retention bonus to be paid for with federal coronavirus relief funds, a signing bonus has been tacked on to the proposal.

The retention bonuses would spend about $8.7 million from the city’s $87.8 million allocation of American Rescue Plan funds. Those would go to employees with at least one year of service by the end of 2021.

Department of Tourism

Tulsa Regional Tourism has been approved for $75,000 in virus relief funding from the American Rescue Plan for a media buy to promote the area to travelers.

Tulsa County commissioners approved the expenditure last week. It will go toward an episode of CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg’s "Travel Detective" show, which airs on PBS and select streaming platforms, along with related assets Tulsa Regional Tourism can use later.

Another round of emergency rental assistance funding is on its way to Tulsa.

The city is receiving a $3.8 million initial disbursement from a total award of $9.5 million in the American Rescue Plan. The new funding is on top of $12 million in a previous coronavirus relief package to help pay late rent and utilities. 

City COVID Relief Funds Manager Alisa Dougless said the guidance for the new funds is less restrictive.

Oklahoma Watch

Yesterday was named Child Tax Credit Awareness Day by the Biden administration. 

 

Marcela Swenson, executive director of Tulsa Responds, says the reason is to raise awareness for a tax credit the President hopes to see continue.

 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated June 10, 5 p.m.  

A working group is still hashing out plans for the City of Tulsa’s $87.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, but a leading proposal has emerged.

"There are obviously many ideas for ARPA funds, but at the top of everyone's list is providing for a retention bonus for our employees," City Council Chair Vanessa Hall-Harper told her colleagues during a committee meeting Wednesday afternoon.

American Rescue Plan funds will provide a boost to the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s long-delayed plan to hire 1,000 school counselors.

Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council on Thursday evening approved a spending proposal from Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. that will use part of the Tribe's $1.8 billion in funding under President Biden's American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief package to provide direct payments of $2,000 to Cherokee citizens, regardless of residency or income.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Monday announced funding allocations from President Biden and Congressional Democrats' American Rescue Plan for states, cities, and counties

Matt Trotter / KWGS

It's been seven weeks since President Joe Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that included direct aid for local governments.

"You know, we will receive funds from the American Rescue Plan. Still haven’t received a final number from the U.S. Treasury on that. They are still working on issuing guidance," City of Tulsa Chief Financial Officer James Wagner told city councilors in a Wednesday update.

Community Health Connection

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced just under $64 million in funding will be divided and awarded to 21 community health centers in Oklahoma as part of President Biden and congressional Democrats' American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief package.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Republican Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma's first congressional district says that generous, pandemic-inspired unemployment benefits are harming American children.

"My childhood was marred by dependence on government aid that motivated my stepdad to stay at home rather than work," Hern said, appearing virtually at a hearing of the House Worker and Family Support Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 24. "My siblings and I bore that burden."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa is still waiting to learn how much funding it will receive from the American Rescue Plan.

The $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill was signed into law by President Joe Biden nearly two weeks ago. Mayor G.T. Bynum said Wednesday he feels a "heavy burden" to ensure the money Tulsa does get is spent responsibly because of what the package will add to the national debt.

Wikimedia

Tulsa County officials are starting to plan for the distribution of funding coming from the $1.9 trillion virus relief package President Joe Biden signed earlier this month.

Board of County Commissioners Chairman Stan Sallee is overseeing Tulsa County's spending of the new aid. He said key differences between this package and 2020’s CARES Act are Tulsa County’s $126 million in American Rescue Plan funds will be delivered in two tranches over two years and proposed spending must be submitted to the federal government first.

File photo

The state unemployment agency is working on implementing two new federal relief programs.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission expects to start distributing $300 weekly benefits from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan by the end of next week.

The agency is also working on Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation, a new but optional program included in the COVID relief package signed by then-President Donald Trump in December. That program offers an additional $100 per week.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes $130 billion in COVID relief for local governments, and some details about how that breaks down are starting to come out.

Tulsa County District 1 Chief Deputy Commissioner Mike Craddock said during a Thursday River Parks Authority meeting they expect $127 million.