Gov. Roy Cooper laid out a set of plans for the $5.7 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds approved by Congress. Among the top priorities listed on Wednesday were broadband infrastructure upgrades and K-12 and higher education initiatives.
“This pandemic has brought us a once-in-a-generation challenge. These funds have brought us a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Let’s use them to make transformational change for our state,” Cooper said at a news conference. ”We’re building a bridge from response to recovery.”
Here’s a breakdown of what Cooper is proposing in numerical order:
-$1.2 billion for fiber installation and other broadband projects in parts of N.C. that are behind the curve for internet services. A projected 80% of the state will have high-speed coverage by 2025.
-$835 million for education financial aid packages including scholarships for low income students. This would provide assistance to over 200,000 students, according to Cooper.
-$575 million to repair thousands of affordable rental houses and multi-family housing units. A portion will be set aside for down payment assistance for first time home buyers.
-$300 million for basic education, along with pursuing skilled teachers and literacy coaches. It would also expand Pre-K programs offered in the state.
-$277 million for miscellaneous capital projects over the next five years.
-250 million for stimulus checks to low income residents. The one-time payout would be between $500 and $250 and based on income under $60,000.
-$160 million to test lead in drinking water pipes and paint, and asbestos at educational buildings and child care centers.
-$125 million for health initiatives to target major causes of death (…i.e. cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and morbid obesity).
-$75 million for health research at UNC and Winston-Salem State University with a focus on African-American health projects.
An undetermined amount of the remaining $2.153 billion will go towards assisting state-recognized American Indian tribes, along with minority-owned businesses.
The state received half of the $5.7 billion on Tuesday, state budget Director Charlie Perusse said. The remaining amount will be disbursed a year from now. The funds must be fully expended by the end of 2026, according to the Associated Press.