February 4, 2023

A state joint committee passed 9 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) projects that will be heard by the full legislature. The projects are worth more than $300 million. 
Many of the projects passed will go towards mental and behavioral health services here in Oklahoma. Members of the committee believe allocating pandemic relief money to these projects will address crucial needs for the state. 
Oklahoma has $1.87 billion in ARPA funds. Projects approved must be geared towards people, infrastructure, and the economy. 
“There were lots of testimony on the impact the pandemic had on behavioral health,” Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Hilbert said. 
The Joint Committee heard the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse concerns. 
“We have aging and challenging facilities that weren’t prepared for the covid crisis,” said Senator Julia Kirt (D). 
$38 million to go to services at a new Tulsa Center for Behavioral health and $87 million to replace the Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman. 
More projects were passed focusing on the physical, mental and spiritual needs of first responders, airmen and soldiers, something that Brig, Gen. Thomas Mancino said is needed. 
“What we have found in working to try and overcome this horrible tragedy of soldier suicide, airmen suicide is that it needs to be a holistic approach,” Brig. Gen Mancino said. 
The committee unanimously passed $22 million for a Holistic Health and Fitness center, a one stop shop with nutritionists, sleep experts, counselors and much more. 
“The covid pandemic itself has led to a greater increase in mental health stress on our force as it has on most people. I’m really thankful that we’re receiving the consideration that we are,” Brig. Gen Mancino said. 
These projects will be up for approval when a 2nd special session reconvenes. 


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