100721 WLD governor press TM

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee addresses the media outside of the Dunn’s Corners Elementary School in Westerly on Thursday. McKee on Thursday also released a plan for spending $113 million in the state's COVID-19 relief funds. | Tim Martin, The Westerly Sun

PROVIDENCE — Gov. Dan McKee disclosed his plans Thursday to spend about $113 million of Rhode Island’s more than $1.1 billion in federal relief funds on essential needs including affordable housing, support for small businesses, and bonuses for child care workers.

The goal of the midyear budget amendment and spending a portion of the state’s American Rescue Plan funds is to accelerate the post-pandemic economy.

“We’re writing Rhode Island’s next chapter now,” the Democratic governor said at a State House news conference. “National assessments show that Rhode Island is, for once, a leading state as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. If we invest soon and invest wisely, we can continue to lead rather than follow, creating opportunities for Rhode Islanders as a result.”

Of $45 million proposed for small businesses, $12.5 million would be used for immediate financial support, with the goal of spending 20% on minority-owned businesses. Another $10.5 million would go to technical assistance and for upgrading technical infrastructure.

He also proposed spending an additional $15 million for affordable housing construction.

The plan also includes a $38.5 million investment in children, families, and social supports, including $13 million for retention bonuses to supplement baseline wages for more than 8,200 child care workers.

Despite the positive growth in the state, there are still significant needs, Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said.

“As we emerge from the COVID crisis, many of our small businesses are still struggling — or are concerned that the colder months will bring renewed hardship,” he said.

The governor’s plan requires approval from state lawmakers.

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