ANNAPOLIS (March 31, 2021)—Unemployment Insurance and Broadband Access in Maryland could be strengthened thanks to assistance from the American Rescue Plan, according to Gov. Larry Hogan, R.
Hogan made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday to detail where $3.9 billion in federal stimulus would be apportioned as a supplement to the current budget bill.
Of the $3.9 billion in federal funding, $1.1 billion has been set aside to provide additional funds for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
The increased support would stabilize unemployment insurance rates and keep the fund solvent for the next two years, according to Hogan.
Another $800 million would be added to Maryland's emergency economic relief programs that have provided grants for small businesses and other economic relief programs for Marylanders.
Maryland schools would receive $600 million to assist in the return to in-person instruction as well as offset pandemic-related expenses, such as improving HVAC systems.
Some $300 million will be spent to strengthen the state's broadband internet infrastructure in an effort to close the digital divide exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate President Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore, called the investment in Maryland's broadband infrastructure "historic" in his comments Wednesday.
Ferguson went on to say that the state was using support from the Biden administration to "close problems today that will set us up for a stronger post-pandemic future."
Another half a billion dollars was set aside for infrastructure improvements through the Department of Transportation.
House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, D-Baltimore County, said that investment in "shovel-ready" projects would help put Marylanders back to work quickly.
The House speaker also announced that funding had been made available to fund park and playground projects in all of the state's 24 jurisdictions.
Other initiatives included $100 million in extra funding for both state employees, and training and apprenticeship programs across the state.
Another $300 million was apportioned for cash assistance programs, temporary disability insurance, and utility assistance for low-income families.