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Interest Groups Have Many Ideas About How Virginia Should Spend Pandemic Aid

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Lawmakers are about to return to Richmond to figure out how to spend billions of dollars in stimulus cash from the federal government.

More than four billion dollars is on the table; a once-in-a-generation infusion of cash to Virginia from the federal government to help recover from the pandemic. And lawmakers are hearing from every corner of the Commonwealth about how to spend it.

Barry DuVall at the Virginia Chamber of Commerce says some of the funding should be used to upgrade building site readiness so Virginia doesn't miss out on attracting new businesses.

"We don't have the sites with the acreage and the infrastructure and the technology necessary to even host those transformational manufacturing projects," DuVall says. "I would tell you it's over $20 billion in the last 12 months."

Rachel Deane at the Legal Aid Justice Center says lawmakers should consider using that one-time money to invest in wraparound services at community schools.

"You might place a health center or ways to access additional family services right there within a school building or right there within a neighborhood," Deane explains. "Those can be really wonderful ways to increase equity and increase community engagement, and I think it's important that we use some of this ARP money to explore new models for education like that."

Members of the General Assembly will weigh which priorities they're willing to fund with that federal aid during a special session next month.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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