How is WV going to spend its $677M in American Rescue Plan funds?

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — In all, the Mountain State received its first payment of $677 million from the American Rescue Plan.

It will get a second check for that same amount next year.

Last time, the governor spent the federal aid independently without consulting the legislature – citing emergency powers. Lawmakers passed a law earlier this year, and now legislature must be involved.

“To stimulate our economy and bring our economy back to life. And so we’ll be working hand-in-hand with the Legislature,” said Gov. Jim Justice (R) West Virginia.

The new law to allow the legislature to weigh in on spending federal emergency aid had wide bipartisan support.

“I think it shows that we as a legislature need to have some say in this. Because this money is allocated for West Virginia for spending right now, to make sure that we get back on track,” said Del. Josh Higginbotham, (R) Putnam.

Some would like to see that money continue the state’s unemployment supplement checks of $300 dollars per week.

The Governor recently ordered those payments to stop on June 19th, believing it was giving people an incentive not to go back to work.

“The extra money for unemployment would be great. That money goes right back into the community. We’re looking at return on investment. We want to help businesses that have been hurt so much during COVID,” said Del. Jim Barach, (D) Kanawha.

There’s agreement some of the money will pay for additional COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites. Still, other funds will improve and expand broadband internet service in areas with poor coverage.

The Governor says he will consult with Legislative leaders from both parties on how to spend the money, but it’s still not clear if he will call the full House and full Senate back to the Capitol for a Special Session and vote.

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