OKLAHOMA CITY – The Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding on Tuesday advanced a comprehensive slate of projects to the full Legislature for consideration in an upcoming special session.
The committee's approvals, combined with previously approved projects, resulted in recommendation of over 60 projects totaling nearly all of Oklahoma state government's $1.87 billion share of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
"The effort put into this process by members of our working groups and the joint committee cannot be understated," said Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding. "There were a lot of late nights and early mornings as we worked through the over 1,400 submissions to decide which projects would benefit the most people in our state. I am confident that the projects advanced by the joint committee will have an immediate impact in areas that need assistance and we will see the dividends both now and in the future."
Ultimately, the committee recommended proceeding with projects totaling about 10% of the $18 billion in requests contained in more than 1,400 submissions made through a public portal that was open from fall 2021 to March 2022.
“I applaud the members of the Senate and House who have undertaken this exhaustive process," said Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee. "The joint committee has conducted itself in a transparent manner, in the best interest of the public. Whether it’s ensuring clean water for communities, undertaking the colossal broadband project or assisting those in need of mental health services these are all areas that we have prioritized and funded. These are projects that will improve the lives of Oklahomans for decades to come.”
For more than a year, subject matter working groups evaluated proposals by eligibility under federal law and priorities established by the joint committee in 2021. All working group recommendations were advanced by joint committee to the full Legislature.
"I am proud of the work that was done by all stakeholders during this lengthy process as the joint committee has recommended over 60 projects, out of over 1,400, for consideration by the Legislature," said Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow. "We heard from the public, industry representatives and others as the working groups carefully decided which projects to advance. I am particularly proud that all areas of the state, both rural and urban, are receiving equal benefit with major projects. It is my hope that the results of this process will provide a benefit to our state for generations to come."
Program areas and specific projects approved by the joint committee will now be placed into appropriations bills for consideration when the Legislature reconvenes the Second Extraordinary Session of the 58th Oklahoma Legislature, which was called for the purpose of evaluating ARPA projects advanced by the joint committee and matters of statewide economic development.
“The proposed projects address critical, immediate needs that were being unmet because of the pandemic," said Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry. "In addition to the positive, transformational changes this will have on the state, there is built in oversight, so Oklahomans can rest assured the money is going to go where it is meant to. Members of the legislature should be proud of this process and deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the way it was handled.”
Projects approved by the joint committee, both Tuesday and previously, are:
- Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) - $100 million for a grant program focused on three areas: small town/rural water districts, medium-large towns/rural water districts and high need dams.
- Statewide Water Projects - $130.5 million for targeted statewide water investment.
- Lake Lugert - $25 million to help finish out the closed lines that are needed to help mitigate water loss from the current open lines.
- Tribal Match - $57 million towards a tribal match for projects identified in collaboration with the tribes, Secretary of Energy and OWRB.
- Oklahoma City/Tinker Air Force Base - $35 million to move a major water line from under Douglas Blvd. to Post Rd. in anticipation of the expansion of Tinker Air Force Base eastward.
- Fair Oaks Ranch - $50 million to help with waste water needs around Tulsa in an area that is growing in industrial use.
- Burns Flat Spaceport - $4.25 million for water and broadband needs for the space port and surrounding community.
- Oklahoma City - $8 million for water infrastructure for an industrial site working with the Innovation District and Tinker to identify companies to move in.
- Port of Inola Water Projects - $14 million for improving the water and waste water needs of the Port and surrounding city.
- Ardmore Airport - $17.1 million for the City of Ardmore and the Ardmore Air Park to update water infrastructure needs.
- Broadband Office Projects - $382.1 million to add to the capital funds amount to grant funds out for buildout of broadband infrastructure.
- Broadband Office Administration - $500,000 for administrative costs to support the establishment of the office.
- Broadband Mapping - $2 million to finish out the map that the Department of Commerce has been building over the last several years.
- Career Tech Broadband - $5 million for career techs to add classes that train a broadband workforce.
- OSU-IT - $365,068 for a training program at OSUIT to help with broadband workforce training.
- Innovation District - $8.4 million to help the Innovation District buy equipment and curriculum to train pharmaceutical and bio life science workforce for the growing industry in the area.
- Lawton Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator (FISTA) - $20 million to develop a state-of-the-art, high tech, nationally recognized advanced technology center in direct support to the U.S. Army Futures Command Cross-Functional Teams and the Joint Counter UAS University.
- Central Oklahoma Manufacturers Association (COMA) - $8.1 million to create the Manufacturing Skills Academy.
- Fab Lab - $250,000 to help purchase new equipment for their new facility that will allow businesses to come in and build prototypes and train workforce that will work for these manufacturers.
- Oklahoma Aviation Academy - $20 million for part of the funding make-up to create the new Oklahoma Aviation Academy.
- Tulsa University Cyber Innovation Institute - $12 million to expand TU's Cyber Innovation Institute with increased class offerings.
- Health Care Workforce Training Commission - $250,000 to help the agency with oversight of projects.
- Career Techs - $9.7 million for increasing the capacity of nursing students.
- Colleges/Universities - $50.3 million for increasing the capacity of nursing students.
- Care Providers - $4.5 million to provide CAN and CMA training.
- Statewide Workforce Initiative - $5 million to set-aside funds dedicated to solving the workforce coordination issue in the state.
- Career Tech Trucking - $6.2 million to expand Career Tech's offering of CDL classes across the state.
- Regional EMS - $6 million to create nine regional response centers that will work with the Office of Emergency Management to ensure emergency preparedness.
- National Guard Joint Operations Center - $8 million to build a joint operations center in Chandler, OK.
- Oklahoma Education Television Authority (OETA) - $8.2 million to replace transmitters and translators across OETA's system that is used to broadcast public television and alerts.
- Oklahoma Arts Council - $10 million for a grant program to be administered by the Arts Council with 50% of the funds going to rural arts non-profits and 50% to Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
- YMCA - $25 million to expand the outside school hours childcare needs at facilities across the state.
- Potts Family Foundation - $9 million to create a grant program that will help programs that are serving young Oklahomans who have suffered setbacks during the pandemic.
- Boys & Girls Clubs - $30.1 million to build out mobile RVs that will have specialized programing for areas where the Boys & Girls Club does not have a physical presence, and for capital needs at their 96 locations.
- Dental Foundation - $5.2 million for five mobile units to expand their current mobile dental clinic.
- Food on the Move - $3 million towards $11 million in needs for the first Food Hub which will bring small/local farmers and independent sellers together to buy and sell products.
- OK Primary Care Association - $50 million of their $82 million requests focused on capital needs at their various locations.
- Oasis Fresh Market - $30 million to help Oasis expand its footprint across the state.
- YWCA - $2.8 million to help build one and two bedroom apartments to house youth aging out of foster care.
- Parent and Child Center of Tulsa - $700,000 for two intervention programs to prevent child abuse in high risk communities and better integrate fathers who live separately from their children.
- The Spring - $1 million for facility needs.
- Family Safety Center - $2 million to go towards their total need of $27 million for a new facility.
- Nonprofit Support - $25 million for a grant program to help replace lost revenue due to COVID-19.
- Griffin Memorial Hospital - $87 million to create a new facility and expand bed capacity by 100 to 300 beds total.
- Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health - $38 million to create a new facility and expand bed capacity by 106 beds.
- First Responder Behavioral Health - $22.15 million to create a facility that both National Guard members and first responders can use for mental health services.
- DPS Wellness Mobile Units - $2.5 million to buy and create two mobile wellness units that will respond to scenes to help with debriefing first responders.
- Thunderbird Challenge Academy - $11.9 million to build a new facility for the top rated Thunderbird Academy.
- Youth Service Alliance - $30.672 million for capital needs that the various sites have from improving facility short-falls to expanding facility needs.
- JD McCarty Center - $6 million to build an outpatient facility for those with autism and other neurodivergent needs.
- OK Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) - $342,360 to help pay for background checks for new advocates and related expenditures.
- First Step Male Diversion - $300,000 towards a $1.1 million facility to help house those currently going through the diversion program.
- University of Oklahoma Children's Hospital - $46.9 million to expand emergency room capacity and build long-term in patient bed capacity for children in mental health crisis.
- Northeastern State University - $15 million to build a new optometry school to be coupled with $18 million the university has already raised.
- Hospital Telemedicine - $10 million for a joint program between the Oklahoma State University Medical Authority & Trust (OSUMA) and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to provide telemedicine access to rural areas.
- OSDH Hospital Rebuild - $25 million for a grant program of $5 million for communities that have recently had a hospital close.
- Hearts for Hearing - $10 million to help expand their Oklahoma City campus.
- OSU Nutrition Institute - $50 million for a facility to research nutrition and exercise impact on health outcomes.
- OSU Pharmaceutical - $50 million for a facility to help continue to provide research into opioids, how to minimize risks, prevent overdoses and find other ways of managing pain.
- Stephenson Cancer Center - $20 million in seed money to create a Stephenson Cancer Center in Tulsa in partnership with a local hospital.
Information Technology Modernization
- Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Medical Records - $26 million to modernize IT capabilities at the Oklahoma State Department of Health to provide electronic health records that would improve communication with clients, staff and external providers.
- OU Medical Records - $44 million for the University Hospital Authority (UHA), OU Health (OUH) and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) to implement a new electronic record system and modernize the technology infrastructure of OUH in order to provide Oklahomans with cutting-edge therapies they cannot currently receive.
- Administrative Office of the Court - $6.2 million to provide e-filing, video conferencing, language access and case tracking capabilities to the Administrative Office of the Courts.
- ARPA Allowable Revolving Fund - $60 million to create a source of funding that industrial sites identified by the Department of Commerce can use to improve their water, waste water and broadband needs. They can access this funding if they are receiving PREP funds.