Federal COVID Relief money continues to fund a number of projects in our area and nationwide. But how long will that funding stream continue, especially with more calls to reduce the Federal Deficit?
In recent days, the announcement that $200 Million in long awaited federal money is being allocated to Pennsylvania for Broadband improvement projects. Mark Higgins – Centre Co. Commissioner saying: “When we first heard some very initial details about this at the County Commissioner Association, it was a pleasant surprise. I believe this was funded by American Rescue Plan dollars. Centre Co. is one of the leading Counties in the Commonwealth for this. We do have an active plan.”
The American Rescue Plan is the Federal dollars tied to Pandemic Relief. For Centre County at the beginning of this year, the remaining Federal money in that account was close to $31.5 Million. Many States, Counties, and Municipalities were told that pot of money needs to be spent by the end of 2026.
With growing debate in Congress about Federal Budget Debt Relief, there’s talk of the un-allocated funding tied to the American Rescue Plan – Billions of Dollars nationwide – being pulled back by the Feds. When we asked if that’s a concern here, Commissioner Higgins had this to say: “Were not that concerned because its Washington, DC. The chances of Congress pushing something through, then the Senate agreeing, and the President signing in a couple of weeks period, I don’t think is too likely. But we have been prudent with our American Rescue Plan dollars.”
As for Broadband, its estimated the latest round of Federal Relief Funding will mean an estimated 44,000 more homes and businesses in Pennsylvania will gain access to high speed internet.