This week, Gov. Roy Cooper released recommendations on spending federal COVID-19 relief funds and the House began moving a broadband funding bill.         

Governor’s American Rescue Plan Act recommendations

Gov. Cooper this week released his recommendations on how to spend federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds coming to North Carolina. The state is expected to receive over $5 billion in recovery funds from this recently enacted federal law. The General Assembly will consider these recommendations and other information and allocate the money.

Cooper’s recommendations include: investing $1.2 billion in broadband access and affordability to close the digital divide in North Carolina; $350 million for a new NC Guarantee Scholarship to assist families making $60,000 a year or less; $800 million for water and wastewater systems; $25 million to support people who are disconnected from the workforce and increase their access to education, training, and support needed to obtain quality employment; $575 million to address housing needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; $350 million to promote economic recovery in the hardest-hit industries across the state through two programs that target restaurants and other food services, accommodations such as hotels, recreation and leisure, and personal services businesses; and $300 million to build the educator pipeline, expand NC Pre-K, support high-quality child care, and promote early literacy development.

Details of the Governor’s proposal are at this link.

Broadband funds

The House Appropriations Committee this week passed a bill (H 947) that would target $750 million in federal funds to expand broadband access in North Carolina. The existing GREAT grant program, which provides grants to private sector providers to spur broadband development in unserved areas, would receive $350 million. The bill also directs $400M to a new Competing Access to Broadband (CAB) program under which counties, in collaboration with the Broadband Infrastructure Office in the Department of Information Technology, would identify areas eligible for program funding. Under the guidance of the Department, a county could initiate a bid process to select a broadband service provider for broadband infrastructure expansion into unserved and underserved areas. The county and the state would each be responsible for a portion of the project cost utilizing ARPA funds.

For more information, contact a member of the Brooks Pierce Government Affairs Team.