R.I. Foundation releases recommendations on how Rhode Island should spend $1.13 billion from ARPA funding
The Rhode Island Foundation’s 15-member steering committee, tasked with delivering recommendations to the R.I. General Assembly on how to spend $1.13 billion in state funding allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act, delivered its report Oct. 19, WPRI reported.
The committee recommended that the largest share of the money — $405 million — go toward funding affordable housing in the state. The committee also recommended $255 million go to behavioral health care, $205 million to workforce development, $100 million to small business assistance, $50 million to “neighborhood trusts” for communities most affected by the pandemic and $50 million to “immediate relief.”
R.I. Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg, who chaired the steering committee, told WPRI that the recommendations target areas with problems exacerbated by the pandemic.
The report only provides recommendations for $1.065 billion of the $1.13 billion allocated by ARPA, which was passed in March 2021.
The ARPA funds must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.
Earlier this month, Gov. Dan McKee unveiled his own initial proposal to spend 10% of the ARPA funds. McKee’s plan prioritized aid to small businesses, investment in childcare and social services and funds for affordable housing, the Boston Globe reported.
Civil rights groups urge R.I. special commission to address alleged “prison gerrymandering”
Advocates from civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of R.I. and Prison Policy Initiative, a criminal justice-focused nonprofit group, are calling on R.I.’s Special Commission on Reapportionment to reconsider so-called “prison gerrymandering,” the Providence Journal reported.
“Prison gerrymandering” refers to the process of counting prison inmates in the district where prisons are located, rather than at the legal home addresses of incarcerated people. Currently, more than 2,000 inmates at the Adult Correctional Institutions, a state prison complex, are counted as part of Cranston and Warwick, where the complex is located.
In practice, advocates say, prison gerrymandering increases the representation of residents in the same districts as prisons, while decreasing representation of other communities in the state. Convicted felons cannot vote while incarcerated under state law.
A number of other states, including California and New York, have already passed legislation that counts incarcerated people at their home addresses for redistricting, advocates noted in written testimony to the commission.
The special commission will hold a hearing on prison gerrymandering in the coming weeks ahead of the release of new maps of congressional, state senate and general assembly districts in November. Most members of the Special Commission on Reapportionment are appointed by the majority leaders in the state assembly and Senate.