• 77°

Ivey responds to legislature’s plans for CARES Act funds

On Thursday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey addressed a letter to the Alabama Legislature pushing for an executive amendment to SB161, the General Fund appropriations bill that would designate how funds from the federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The letter follows reports that Republicans in the state legislature were eying plans to spend $200 million of the relief funding for the construction of a new statehouse, as well as other pet projects.

“Unlike other emergency relief bills that have been passed by Congress during recent disasters the [CARES Act] was signed into law by [U.S. President Donald Trump] on March 27 with the clear intent of reimbursing only those expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ivey said in a Thursday statement. “Moreover, this obligation is for a period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020, meaning if this money isn’t spent not just allocated, by the end of this year, it goes back to the U.S. Treasury [Department].”

According to Ivey, the state’s total share of CARES Act funding is just over $1.9 billion.

“That’s a lot of money for sure,” Ivey said. “And, if spent wisely, it could very well help us pay for many legitimate expenses incurred by cities, counties and the state, nursing homes and hospitals, schools and colleges – and other worthy expenditures – that are directly related to COVID-19.”

Ivey’s amendment to the legislature’s budget bill lays out explicitly how the federal funds should be spent across the state, including up to $300 million to reimburse state agencies for expenditures directly related to the pandemic, up to $250 million to reimburse local governments, up to $250 million for healthcare services, up to $300 million to support citizens, businesses and nonprofits, up to $53 million for reimbursement of equipment and infrastructure related to remote work for state government, up to $300 million for technology and infrastructure, up to $200 million for reimbursements to the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), up to $10 million to ensure access to courts during the pandemic, $5 million to reimburse the state’s General Fund for appropriations made to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and up to more than $118 million for “any lawful purpose” approved under the federal law.

With Thursday’s letter, Ivey signaled to the legislature that she intends to sign both the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets into law, as well as amend the General Fund bill to provide for specific coronavirus relief efforts.

“There are over 10,700 people who have currently tested positive and 450 have died in the last two months from this disease,” Ivey said. “Also, over 450,000 people have filed for unemployment compensation, which is more than the last two years combined. While no one could have predicted COVID-19, it is easy to conclude this pandemic has touched every aspect of our daily lives.”