How We Used Flexible Federal ARPA Dollars

May 13, 2022

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal government provided states with three large stimulus packages partially aimed at mitigating impacts on the economy. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and companion Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed in March of 2020 (roughly $13.6 billion for Utah), followed by the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December of 2020 (approximately $4.3 billion).

The third round of funding, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), was passed in March 2021 and included roughly $9.2 billion in aid for Utah. Of that, ARPA provided the state with $1.38 billion in discretionary grants through the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF). In addition to the SLFRF, Utah received $136 million specifically to fund capital projects in the aptly named Capital Projects Fund (CPF). 

SLFRF funds are authorized for several use categories, including:  

  • –Activities related to COVID-19 response, mitigation, and prevention;
  • –Replenishment of state unemployment trust funds;
  • –Assistance to households;
  • –Assistance to small businesses and non-profits;
  • –Prevention and response to crime and support of public safety;
  • –Assistance to impacted industries other than tourism, travel, and hospitality, as long as there is a demonstrated impact;
  • –Assistance to populations, households, or geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic; and
  • –Water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure projects.

SLFRF funds can also be used to provide government services under ‘revenue replacement.’ If state “own source” revenue, as defined by the Census Bureau, falls below a calculated baseline, states can use SLFRF allocations to pay for regularly occurring state services.  For more information on allowable uses, check out this post from September 2021

In the 2021 1st Special Session, the Legislature appropriated $571.2 million (about 41 percent) of total flexible funds allocated under ARPA.  During the 2022 General Session, legislators authorized the additional amounts shown in table 1 below. 

Table 1

( Descriptions for each of the funding items in table 1 can be found at:  https://cobi.utah.gov/2022/1/issues

Prior to making any of these appropriations, in May of 2021, the Executive Appropriations Committee divided SLFRF and capital project funds into “buckets”. The following table 2 compares the original buckets to current appropriations as of the end of the 2022 General Session.  

Table 2

A portion of the funding in these buckets might qualify for Utah’s $136 million ARPA Capital Projects Fund allocation. The CPF is limited to broadband expansion or investment in facilities that enable work, education, and healthcare monitoring. While final approval of CPF projects must come from the U.S. Treasury, the Legislature submits that the projects listed below in table 3 could qualify for CPF funding.

Table 3

Just shy of $100 million in discretionary ARPA funding remains for legislators to appropriate. Whether these funds will be available under the more flexible SLFRF or limited to the CPF will depend upon how the U.S. Treasury rules on Utah’s proposed capital projects.