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Wyoming governor releases first look at how relief funds will be spent
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Wyoming governor releases first look at how relief funds will be spent

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Gov. Mark Gordon speaks inside the state Capitol in March. The governor announced Monday in broad terms how he wants to spend the latest federal aid package.

Gov. Mark Gordon laid out broad areas where he plans to allocate the first half of the American Rescue Plan funds that Wyoming recently received from the federal government.

The roughly $1 billion will go toward “health and social services,” “education and workforce,” and “economic diversity and economic development,” according to a Monday news release from the governor’s office.

A more detailed plan will be released in June, the governor’s office said, and this future plan will also include “proposals for initiatives or new programs for consideration by the Legislature.”

“This is our way of informing the public that we’re working on it and we got the money,” said Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s communications director.

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The state learned last week that it would receive more than $1 billion thanks to the latest stimulus package. Of that total, $568.5 million was based on unemployment statistics, on top of the base amount of $500 million provided to every state and D.C.

Because the American Rescue Plan provides additional funding specifically for groups such as schools, child care, community health centers and others, Wyoming will also receive $360 million for education and $9 million for community health centers that is not up to Gordon’s discretion.

Unlike federal relief money from last year’s CARES Act, which had to be spent in a matter of months, states have more than three years to spend the American Rescue Plan funds.

Counties, municipalities and tribal governments will also receive their own funding through the plan. Cheyenne and Casper, for example, received $12.2 million and $9.1 million, respectively.

“We are going to be laser-focused on addressing Wyoming’s short and long-term recovery, and on getting people back to work,” Gordon said in the announcement. “I want to ensure we use these dollars to thrive in the long-term, because this federal spending is increasing debt on our children and the generations to come. We must not squander this opportunity to invest wisely in our state’s future.”

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