COVID-19’s impact on state and local government profound, but not in the way expected | Local News


Many believe a major reason for that is the trillions of dollars pumped into the U.S. and Oklahoma economy by the federal government.

The state’s Republican political leadership might disagree, at least to some extent, and leadership tends to credit Gov. Kevin Stitt and others for keeping the state “open” for most of the pandemic, a strategy that helped keep Oklahoma commerce moving. But it’s hard to dismiss the effects of the largest injection of adrenaline into the U.S. economy since World War II.

The American Relief Plan Act — ARPA — makes available $1.87 billion to the state of Oklahoma. That doesn’t include $315.8 million to the state’s 10 largest city’s, $238.4 million to the rest of the state’s cities and towns, and $768.6 million for its 77 counties. It also doesn’t include $1.4 billion set aside for education, or money allocated to the state’s tribal governments.

All told, a November estimate puts Oklahoma state and local government’s total from all COVID-related relief at nearly $14 billion — about the equivalent of a year’s state and local tax revenue, or 7% of a year’s gross state revenue.

Unlike with earlier rounds of assistance, state and local governments have several years to spend ARPA funds. That’s allowed them to be more deliberate; the state, in fact, has committed virtually none of its allocation, although the Legislative committee has made a few recommendations.

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