LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas has taken advantage of the American Rescue Plan funding with significant investments in broadband and public health.

According to its yearly report issued Aug. 18 by the Arkansas American Rescue Plan Steering Committee, the state has spent $192.8 million on broadband expansion, $316.8 million on health care, or $509.6 million in total. An additional $2.6 million has been committed to broadband but not spent, and health care has an additional $2.06 million committed to projects but not spent as of the August report.

The broadband spending is across grants to communities to add services and administration of the state’s expansion plan. Arkansas has $195.4 million of the funds allocated to broadband, with $192.8 million spent through August.

The most significant single figure in broadband funding is the $182.5 million for State Broadband Grants, described as a public/private partnership in the report. The remaining $12.9 million funding commitment is on the administration side, including developing a masterplan for state broadband.

The public health section of the Arkansas plan can be broken down into two areas: The physical infrastructure needed due to the pandemic and services that need to be ramped up due to the pandemic’s impact on communities.

Hospitals needed to add beds due to the demands of the pandemic. Arkansas spent $78.4 million on this across 16 hospitals using ARPA funds. All of the money allocated here has been paid.

Beds and the other COVID-19 medical support were reported at $316.8 million.

Pandemic support did not end with beds. Additional staffing, staff support, biohazard handling and care of hospital COVID-19 patients called for $238.4 million in funds.

Outside of the direct funding for COVID-19 treatment was the need for funding community support, such as safe places for children affected by the pandemic. Arkansas Boys & Girls Clubs received $5.6 million in funding. Additional funds for protecting women and children from harm, such as domestic violence protection programs, have $3.8 million of funding committed, with $1.8 million of that spent through August.

The state must file a yearly report with the federal government to show that ARPA funds are being used appropriately. Arkansas received $1.57 billion in aid through ARPA in two $786.5 million payments a year apart; the second payment was received in May of this year.

Most of the Arkansas funding, $1.08 billion, remains unallocated.

Additional ARPA funds were allocated directly to city and county governments.