Poverty & Safety Net
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Community Solutions Launching Effort to Track and Influence Federal Relief Funding Flowing into Ohio

John R. Corlett
Visiting Senior Fellow
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September 7, 2021
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Funding emanating from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) represents one of the largest single federal investments in local and state governments in the nation’s history. Much attention has focused on the $5.3 billion that Ohio is receiving in fiscal relief funds. Equally significant amounts are coming to Cuyahoga County, the City of Cleveland, and local governments throughout Cuyahoga County. But even these dollars don’t represent the full picture of funding flowing into the state. The State of Ohio is receiving around $29.4 billion in additional ARP funding across a broad range of federal programs. At the same time, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have recently passed $3.5 trillion budget resolutions that form the basis for the proposed Build Back Better reconciliation bill. This legislation includes both policy and spending proposals. Much of the spending, like ARP resources, will flow to states and then to local governments and health and human service providers.

The State of Ohio is receiving around $29.4 billion in additional ARP funding across a broad range of federal programs.

Ohio’s efforts to spend half of its $5.3 billion in American Rescue Plan State Fiscal Recovery Funds got moving in June when the Ohio General Assembly adopted, and Governor Mike DeWine signed, Ohio House Bill 168. It appropriated funds to repay an estimated $1.47 billion in federal unemployment advances, $250 million for the Ohio Department of Development to establish a water and sewer quality grants program, $84 million to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for pediatric behavioral health care facilities, $422 million to the Office of Budget and Management to provide funding to “non-entitlement” units of local government who were left out of the distribution of state fiscal recovery funds.

Recently the Ohio Controlling Board approved $5 million over two years in state fiscal recovery funds for the Ohio Exhibitions Commission, the group who organize the Ohio State Fair among other events, to increase their staffing to pre-pandemic levels. Kim Murnieks, Director of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management has said that $850 million in first-year ARP funding has yet to be appropriated. Governor DeWine has suggested one of his ARP spending priorities will be to propose significant investments in state parks and behavioral health.

Unless there is coordinated community action, many families may be unaware of the credit, be left behind and never receive the badly needed aid.

Other provisions in the federal legislation deliver direct aid to children, families and other groups. For example, it has been estimated that the child tax credit will reduce child poverty in the United States by half. Community Solutions estimates that it could lift 10,000 Cleveland children above the poverty line. But unless there is coordinated community action, many families may be unaware of the credit, be left behind and never receive the badly needed aid. It also seems likely that the President and Congress will approve additional federal investments via an infrastructure bill or another budget reconciliation measure. At the same time, due to the pandemic, many federal policies and rules across a broad range of public benefit programs have been revamped and or waived. Many of these waivers will cease to exist without state and or federal action to keep them in place. This could result in thousands of Greater Clevelanders losing assistance.

In response, T he Center for Community Solutions is working to create and staff a Greater Cleveland American Rescue Plan Council who will actively engage private non-profit organizations, philanthropy, state and local governments, community based organizations and other interested persons in a coordinate effort to:

  • Maximize ARP and other federal resources coming to Greater Cleveland.
  • Track how local, state and federal governments spend ARP funding.
  • Seek to influence the use of ARP and other funds so they are invested to create economic opportunity and reduce inequities and disparities.
  • Highlight the positive impact of ARP and subsequent federal investments that reduce poverty, inequities and disparities in order to build the political will to continue such investments in the future.The Council will hold public meetings, featuring relevant presentations by local and state agencies and representatives, at least quarterly. It may also form subcommittees to research and develop recommendations regarding specific issues of concern. We will develop and/or support timely research and fiscal analysis tracking of how and where federal, state and local ARP funds are being invested. Research and analysis will be used to shape policymaker thinking about how funds can and should be invested to create economic opportunity while reducing inequities and disparities.
We welcome the participation of EVERYONE in the Greater Cleveland American Rescue Plan Council.

Community Solutions wants to invest in increasing the capacity of non-profit, philanthropic, and community-based organizations to effectively engage in advocacy around how ARP and subsequent federal funds are invested at the local, state, and federal level. To this end, the Council will provide small grants to community based organizations and small health and human service non-profits to support their ARP-related advocacy. Our policy staff will regularly engage with local and state government to ensure that the Council is aware of any funding or programmatic opportunities resulting from ARP and or subsequent federal funding.

Community Solutions believes that without this type of coordinated and early action, these resources may not be as effective as they could be in alleviating and addressing the inequities and disparities laid bare by the pandemic. We welcome the participation of everyone in the Greater Cleveland American Rescue Plan Council. If you are interested in getting involved, please send me an email at jcorlett@communitysolutions.com. The Council will begin to operate by the end of the year.

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