The Arkansas American Rescue Plan’s Steering Committee met for the first time Wednesday to discuss how to distribute $ 1.57 billion to various programs. Asa Hutchinson said the money will be used for everything from COVID-19 vaccines to broadband internet. “It’s unique in history. It’s a unique opportunity to improve the infrastructure in our state from broadband to healthcare to cybersecurity, from IT to water projects,” Hutchinson said. In total, the federal government gave Arkansas $ 5 billion with the American Rescue Plan. About $ 1.57 billion of this has been allocated to the state government, with the remainder going to local governments and other projects. Chairman Larry Walther said the focus is the money flowing into the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID response, reducing the spread of the virus, controlling the pandemic, vaccinations, contact tracing, things like that are number one,” Walther said. Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins is part of the NWA COVID-19 Task Force. He said this money could help educate more Arcansans about the vaccine, which could help with vaccination rates. “We need all the help we can get. It wasn’t until the vaccines came out that we got around the corner. I think the money was put into vaccines. Not only vaccines, but educating the public about the safety of vaccines is from critical to continuing to resolve the problem that has persisted for over a year, “said Jenkins. Hutchinson said another important thing in Arkansas is rural broadband internet. “I’d rather see our broadband investment in a few months than a year. Let’s get it out quickly. It’s an urgent need,” he said by December 31, 2026, $ 1.57 billion must be spent . The committee will meet again in early June and provide a more detailed breakdown of how much money was spent.

The Arkansas American Rescue Plan’s Steering Committee met for the first time Wednesday to discuss how to distribute $ 1.57 billion to various programs.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said the money will be used for everything from COVID-19 vaccines to broadband internet.

“It’s unique in history. It’s a unique opportunity to improve the infrastructure in our state from broadband to healthcare to cybersecurity, from IT to water projects,” said Hutchinson.

In total, the federal government gave Arkansas $ 5 billion with the American Rescue Plan.

About $ 1.57 billion of this has been allocated to the state government, with the remainder going to local governments and other projects.

Chairman Larry Walther said the focus of the money is on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID response, reducing the spread of the virus, controlling the pandemic, vaccinations, contact tracing, things like that are number one,” Walther said.

Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins is part of the NWA COVID-19 Task Force. He said this money could help educate more Arcansans about the vaccine, which could help with vaccination rates.

“We need all the help we can get. It wasn’t until the vaccines came out that we got around the corner. I think money that goes into vaccines is not just for vaccines, but for educating the public about them.” Vaccine safety is essential to continue to solve a really long problem, “Jenkins said.

Governor Hutchinson said another important thing in Arkansas is rural broadband internet.

“I’d rather see our broadband investment in a few months than a year. Let’s get it out quickly. It’s an urgent need,” he said.

The committee said the $ 1.57 billion must be spent by December 31, 2026.

The committee will meet again in early June and explain in more detail where it intends to spend the money.