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Lawmakers examine American Rescue Plan’s impact on eastern Ky.

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -The American Rescue Plan, the latest coronavirus relief package totaling $1.9 trillion, is helping state and local governments jump over the hurdle of lost revenues in the last year.

“Frankly, from a financial point of view, it’s going to be Christmas in late spring,” said U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The package provided stimulus payments, extended unemployment benefits, brought help to small businesses and targeted federal vaccination efforts.

Eastern Kentucky leads the commonwealth in vaccination efforts, with Pike County leading with 25 percent of their population vaccinated, according to the CDC.

“This county has done better than any other county in vaccination efforts. We’re almost to the end zone, but we need to get 75 percent of our people vaccinated to achieve what’s called herd immunity to protect the rest of us. Then we can finally put this awful disease in the rearview mirror,” McConnell said.

As more shots are administered to reach that goal, McConnell remains a critic of the American Rescue Plan -- believing the priorities are mixed up.

“I didn’t vote for it because only one percent of it is for vaccines, and nine percent of it is for health care. I thought that’s where the focus should be,” Sen. McConnell said. “However hospitals, county governments, and the state government will have a significant amount of money. I encourage you to spend it wisely.”

On average, eastern Kentucky counties received $6 million in relief, but cashing in the money isn’t easy and comes with spending limitations.

“It will be used in ways super beneficial in Floyd County for sewer, water, and broadband project,” said state Rep. Ashley Tackett Laferty, a Democrat. " I think not only does our economy need this boost, but it’s the boost eastern Kentucky has been waiting for.”

For a breakdown of aid to counties, click here.

State Sen. Phillip Wheeler, a Republican, says the economic boost can’t happen without payment for the desperately needed improvements to infrastructure.

“We have to recognize they’re not just simply pennies from heaven. The piper will need to be paid at some point, but at the same time, I’m glad to have the money.,” Wheeler said.

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