Bobroff: ARPA bills being finalized
After meeting with the Fiscal Recovery Fund Office, Department of Justice and Office of Legislative Services, on Tuesday Chief Legislative Counsel Dana Bobroff told the Budget and Finance Committee she expects the first Navajo ARPA expenditure bills to be completed by next week.
“It looks like the committed goal is to have legislation finalized and dropped by next Tuesday, November 22,” she said.
Bobroff said the first bill will cover infrastructure, including broadband, water waster/water, power, bathroom additions, and housing, plus hardship assistance.
She said the delay in completing the legislation was due to her office waiting to receive the “final projects list” for the bill which totals an estimated $1.1 billion in Navajo ARPA funds, she said.
Once the legislation is dropped, or introduced, it will move on to the Naabik’íyáti Committee for review, she said, probably the following week.
“My understanding is that the Speaker (Seth Damon) is planning on a two- or three-day Naabik’íyáti’ meeting,” she said.
After it is reviewed by the Naabik’íyáti’ Committee, the legislation will then go to the Navajo Nation Council for approval and across the street to the president’s office for signature.
Bobroff said she believes the second proposed ARPA legislation in the pipeline will allocate funds for chapters and chapter projects.
The third bill will focus on health, education, social services, economic development, and tourism priorities, she said.
“It’s my understanding that the initial determinations have been done on those,” she said.
This is all in line with what the president’s office shared on Oct. 15 as its proposed expenditure breakdown of the $2.079 billion in ARPA FRF funding as follows:
First bill (infrastructure projects)
• $200 million for Broadband.
• $200 million for water/wastewater.
• $160 million for power lines.
• $140 for bathroom additions.
• $80 million for Housing.
Second bill (chapters)
• $220 million for chapter projects.
Third bill (services)
• $80 million for education.
• $80 million for health.
• $80 million for social services.
• $90 million for economic development.
• $20 million for tourism.
• $100 million for enterprise funding.
• $207 million for hardship assistance payments.
• $78 million for Sihasin and UUFB project reimbursements.
• $168 million to refund CARES projects.
• $165 for ARPA administration and regulatory support.
As far as the additional types of ARPA funding pots that are available to the Nation above and beyond the $2.1 billion allocated to the Fiscal Recovery Fund Office, Bobroff recommended the Council request a report on all of the available ARPA funds that aren’t FRF funds, which she estimated totals around $530 million.
Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty stressed that the Budget and Finance Committee needs to see the full picture of what is available through ARPA in order to maximize opportunities for the Nation and address other priorities such as Navajo public safety and justice system spending.
The B & F Committee agreed to reach out to FRF Office Director Tom Platero to request that report.
Late Tuesday, Platero confirmed to Navajo Times that an additional $534.5 million in ARPA funds, separate from the $2.1 billion in ARPA FRF funds, were earmarked for the following:
• Diné College, $16.8 million.
• Navajo Technical University, $16.9 million.
• Child Care and Development block-grant, $31.4 million.
• Child Care stabilization $49.3, million.
• Head Start, $1 million.
• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, $1.9 million.
• Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program, $5.4 million.
• Homeowner Assistance Fund, $55.4 million.
• Public transportation, $929,651.
• Pandemic Emergency Fund, $8.1 million.
• Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, $53 million.
• Indian Health Service, $48.2 million.
• Bureau of Indian Affairs, $21.3 million.
• Bureau of Indian Education, $171 million.
• Indian Housing block-grant, $49.8 million.
A complete breakdown of the IHS, BIA, and BIE programs and services funded above can be requested from the FRF Office.