The 52 members of the Senate were also presented with their plans to spend $1.8 billion more in ARPA funds by Senate leaders. Briggs Hopson (R-Vicksburg), Senate Appropriations Chair, stated that bills to allocate the majority of the funds will soon be presented to the chamber. The House must agree to the spending, as it has not yet released its plan. The Senate’s largest spending plan includes $750 million to match spending made by Mississippi counties and cities, which receive about $900 million each in ARPA funds. The state match would be available to cities and counties that spend their allocations on water infrastructure and rural water associations. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann called on Mississippi to use its federal pandemic stimulant billions for “transformational and generational” projects such as major public works upgrades and repairs. Monday’s statement by Hosemann stated that counties and cities that have spent stimulus money on worker raises or other non-infrastructure items will likely not be eligible for a match under the Senate plan. READ MORE: Is safe drinking water a priority in Mississippi’s federal stimulus spending? Hosemann stated that “we are trying to do something with this money which will be transformative” and “last a lot longer than the drug of all the money the federal government has given us for two years.” The Senate held several hearings over several weeks and sought input from local governments, universities, and non-profits on how the Legislature should spend $1.8 million in federal pandemic funding money. They provided nearly $7 billion worth of requests to the special Senate subcommittee. Hosemann has been traveling throughout the state for several months and meeting with local leaders to urge them to invest in big infrastructure projects. READ MORE: Lawmakers sought input about spending $1.8 billion on pandemic stimuli. They received $7 billion in requests. The Senate approved four spending bills totaling $177.3 million Monday for Child Protective Services and the Department of Mental Health. It also included the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the State National Guard, and the Department of Mental Health. Hosemann stated that these agencies needed immediate assistance from pandemic costs and pointed out that the state is facing federal court mandates for improving its Child Protective Services or Department of Mental Health. Hosemann stated, “We want to show the federal courts Mississippi can run its own Child Protection Services and the Mental Health.” Congress passed the American Rescue Plan last year in order to help local and state governments as well as individuals deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although all of the republicans in Congress voted against it, the state senators supported the spending of the funds Monday. Many wanted to be co-authors of the four first spending bills. The bills were passed Monday. “We tried to get the best care possible to mental health patients, and the best protection for children,” stated Sen. John Polk (R-Hattiesburg), who was the head of the Senate special committee that examined the best way to spend federal funds. Senator Angela Turner Ford (D-West Point) was one of a few Democrats to vote present on certain bills. She asked for more information about how agencies would spend the funds, and what would happen if funds for recurring expenses (such as hiring additional staff) were exhausted. According to Turner Ford’s questions and those of other Democrats, Polk provided additional details such as the hiring and expansion of Child Protection Services and 60 beds for mental health patients. The bills also provided additional funding for law enforcement training to deal with mental patients. They also paid for a special telephone number (988) that people can call to get emergency help when dealing with someone with mental illness. Senator John Horhn (D-Jackson) said that it appeared the legislation would incur “recurring costs and be paid for with one-time funds.” Polk stated that the additional 202 employees at Child Protection Services will help to address a backlog of foster care program cases. As the backlog is cleared, however, the number would decrease over time due to attrition. Horhn expressed concern that Child Protection Services did not appear to be providing funds through American Rescue Fund for people who have left the foster care system after they were 18. READ MORE: Rules: How can Mississippi and local governments spend billions of dollars in COVID-19 stimuli? $750 million: Matching stimulus spending from cities, counties, and rural water associations for water and sewerage infrastructure projects. This includes $350m for rural water associations, and $50m for smaller cities receiving less than $1million in pandemic relief funds. $59 million: To hire 202 staff to help with the state’s struggling foster care system. $104.6 million: To support the state’s Department of Mental Health. This includes $18.5 million for community-based mental health centers. $26.7 million: To support the central operations of the Mississippi Department of Health. $55 million: Training and retention of workers. This money can be used to pay student loans and for health and nursing programs at community colleges and universities. $62.5 million: To promote tourism in the state. This includes $30 million to local destination marketing agencies across the state, and $32.5 million to state parks. $7.5 million: To pay the death benefits to law enforcement officers and firefighters who have died from COVID-19. $211.4 Million: To support infrastructure projects at state agencies, including the Department of Corrections. $26.5 million is also available for work on state buildings. $110 million: To finance water and sewerage projects in universities and community colleges. $3.2 million: To reimburse the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for COVID-19 costs not covered by the federal government. $10 million: Private colleges and universities. $10.49 Million: To the Mississippi National Guard. A large portion of this will go to infrastructure improvements at Camp Shelby. $12 million: To pay hospitals for ICU and the use of negative pressure beds to deal with pandemic surges. $250 million: To reimburse the state for any lost revenue due to the pandemic. $133.6 Million: A “holdback”, which will be spent later. To support this important work, you can make a recurring gift today to celebrate our Spring Member Drive.