Rescue plan

We can fund our future with US bailout and bipartisan infrastructure law: Amanda Woodrum

Guest columnist Amanda Woodrum is a senior researcher at Policy Matters Ohio.

Thanks to bold action by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, Ohio communities are receiving an influx of federal dollars.

Now that funds are flowing to states and communities, it’s time for us to tell our elected officials what our communities really need. Ohio’s new Funding Our Future project offers good options.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed by Congress last year sends a total of $4.4 billion to city and county governments across the state. Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lake and Medina counties received a combined $380 million.

Together, the cities of Cleveland, East Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Elyria, Euclid and Mentor will receive a total of $625 million.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL), also passed in 2021, will send billions to Ohio for projects that improve our transportation system, expand broadband, make communities more climate-resilient, and begin bringing our infrastructure in the 21st century.

BIL funds can help us build a better future for workers and families across the state.

The Biden administration is designing both programs to address the impact of poverty and racism on the health and well-being of too many Americans.

Every day, Ohioans have a role to play in helping determine how local authorities spend funds.

In Cleveland, residents with PB Cle – PB for “participatory budgeting” are asking city officials to set aside a portion of APRA funds for projects chosen by the community. Residents of other communities should do the same.

Some of BIL’s funding will come directly to states and local governments, but the law offers $60 billion in competitive grants for projects that engage the community, utilize union labor and create career paths for people who are often excluded because of their race, gender. or income level.

Here are some of our suggestions for community members to raise with elected officials:

• Use health equity assessments to inform decision-making and ensure that ARPA spending benefits the most people.

• Target low-income residents and those often excluded from on-the-job training opportunities on publicly funded infrastructure projects. The Building Futures program in central Ohio is an excellent model. Using ARPA dollars for this purpose will help attract competitive grants from BIL.

• Follow Columbus and Franklin County’s lead and use ARPA funds to make child care more affordable and better support child care workers.

• Use ARPA funds to provide essential workers with a wage premium and for anti-wage theft activities to ensure all workers receive full pay for all hours worked .

• Help local governments lead by example by creating or expanding their own paid family and medical leave programs.

• Use ARPA funds to reach the children and families most affected by the pandemic with school health centers, better technology and better pay for educators.

• Reinvent public safety with a “care response” for behavioral health emergencies, to build a more compassionate, humane and efficient juvenile justice system.

All people deserve to live a happy and healthy life, no matter where they live or what they look like. With the injection of federal dollars, local officials can expand opportunity and increase shared prosperity.

It’s up to us to make sure that’s how they use those funds.

Readers are invited to submit opinion page essays on topics of regional or general interest. Send your 500-word essay for review to Ann Norman at [email protected]. Essays should include a brief biography and photo of the author. Essays disproving today’s topics are also welcome.