Governor Gina M. Raimondo was joined on a conference call this morning by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline as they discussed ways the state can utilize federal stimulus dollars. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Rhode Island’s federal delegation has helped direct billions of dollars to Rhode Island workers, jobseekers, families, employers, health care providers, schools, and communities. Additionally, the state received its guaranteed allocation of $1.25 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds that were included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law No. 116-136) to support the state’s response to the pandemic.
The funds may be used to cover costs incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2020. Thanks in large part because of the efforts of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation, Coronavirus Relief Funds are now able to be used for so-called “secondary effects” of the pandemic, including support for small businesses who have suffered financial losses and other key programs.
“I could not be more grateful to Rhode Island’s federal delegation for securing this critical stimulus funding from the federal government,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Thanks to their leadership, we are now able to use these funds to support small businesses, and education aid—areas that will require significant investments as we put Rhode Island on a path back to prosperity. I will continue to consult with our congressional delegation and relevant stakeholders throughout this process.”
Some of these federal funds have already been spent, allowing the state to secure necessary PPE, equipment and facilities, provide raises to low-wage Rhode Island health care workers on the frontlines and dedicate additional Medicaid dollars to nursing homes.
“I was one of the early architects of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, and I am pleased we got it passed in Congress with unanimous support. I insisted on the small state minimum to ensure Rhode Island got its fair share, and I know Governor Raimondo will put this money to work the right way, saving lives and livelihoods. And I am working to provide an additional $600 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds in CARES Act 2 to help states, cities, and towns,” said Senator Reed.
“I was pleased to join my colleagues in the delegation to bring an infusion of over $1.5 billion in federal dollars into state coffers for the coronavirus response, in addition to the relief payments and boosted unemployment benefits going directly to Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Whitehouse. “That federal funding will help increase our testing capacity, equip frontline health care workers with personal protective equipment and provide them with additional pay, and buoy hospitals and nursing homes through the crisis. We will continue working with Governor Raimondo to make sure federal funds can be used to meet the most acute needs of state and local governments and to get our economy humming once again.”
On the call, the Governor and congressional delegation discussed ways the funding can be leveraged to support some of Rhode Island’s hardest-hit sectors, including hospitals and congregate care settings, public safety, and municipalities.
“These unprecedented times have required an unprecedented response to help Rhode Island families, small business owners, and frontline workers fighting to overcome the coronavirus pandemic,” said Congressman Langevin. “Congress acted swiftly to deliver assistance that is critical as we work to protect public health and get our state back on track. I am focused on making sure Rhode Island comes out stronger from this, and it is important that we continue our strong partnership with Governor Raimondo to ensure she has the backing and flexibility to best serve the needs of Rhode Islanders.”
“Rhode Island is rising to meet this challenge. We see it every day in the extraordinary men and women who are leading by quiet example – doing things as simple as washing their hands and covering their faces. We see it too in the actions of first responders and health care workers. This crisis has revealed the character of our state and its great people,” said Congressman Cicilline. “That’s why it’s so important that we make sure Rhode Island gets the resources it needs right now. I’m grateful to be working as part of such a strong federal delegation that will continue fighting to ensure Rhode Island has all the resources it needs to get through this pandemic.”
The Governor also announced that a new state website dedicated to tracking COVID-19 spending will launch in the coming weeks. The website, which will be updated monthly, will allow Rhode Islanders to see exactly how much and where the state is spending federal dollars relating to the COVID-19 crisis.