Ivey won't sign spending bill, wants plan for COVID-19 cash

Kay Ivey | Photo: MGN Online

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is asking lawmakers to change a spending bill to detail how the state will spend more than $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief fund.

Posted: May 15, 2020 10:34 AM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Thursday that she is asking lawmakers to change a spending bill to ensure the state’s $1.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds is “put to use for the purposes Congress and President Trump intended.”

The Republican governor and Republican-controlled Legislature have been in a tug-of-war over the funds.

Ivey wrote to legislators saying she is returning the spending bill, which makes supplemental appropriations to state agencies, with an executive amendment to detail how the COVID-19 funds should be used. When lawmakers return Monday to Montgomery for the final day of the 2020 legislative session, they will decide whether to accept the governor’s proposed changes.

“Tension can be a good thing if you allow it to birth good ideas. ... My firm opinion remains that most members of the Legislature want to do the right thing while making certain this money helps the people of Alabama who have been harmed by this disease,” Ivey said in a statement.

The spending bill as passed by lawmakers had designated $200 million to the governor for the reimbursement of coronavirus-related expenditures with the rest to be decided later by lawmakers.

Ivey has proposed appropriating the money into different categories, including up to $300 million to reimburse state agencies for coronavirus expenses; $250 million to local governments; $250 million for healthcare services; $300 million to support citizens, businesses and non-profit and faith-based organizations; $300 million for technology and infrastructure related to remote learning; $200 million to the prison system and $10 million to the court system.

The governor and legislators had a rare public disagreement over the funds.

Lawmakers contended it was their constitutional responsibility to make budgeting decisions and that it was better to have the entire 140-member Legislature decide how to use the money. Ivey publicly disclosed that she had seen a “wish list” suggesting that $200 million could be used to build a new Statehouse — an idea that legislative leaders say is now off the table.

A spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said lawmakers are reviewing the amendment.

“It is extremely disappointing that no one in Senate leadership was included in this discussion of how to spend nearly $2 billion of CARES ACT funding. We will have to review this with the entire Senate Republican caucus before a final decision can be made as to whether or not the Senate will vote to concur with the executive amendment,” Marsh spokesman Will Califf said in a statement.

The chairman of the Senate budget committee said he sees some “positives” in the governor's proposal, but said he would need to discuss it with other senators. The governor's proposal would require the state finance director to give lawmakers notice of expenditures.

“It gives us the oversight to see where it goes,” Republican Sen. Greg Albritton of Range said.

The chairman of the budget committee in the House of Representatives said he will recommend that lawmakers accept the governor’s proposals.

“I think it looks pretty good,” Republican Rep. Steve Clouse of Ozark said of Ivey’s proposal. Clouse said it moves the money into different “buckets” for coronavirus-related expenditures.

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said Thursday that the state needs to spend more money on testing and contact tracing to control the spread of the virus.

“Well clearly, I was very disturbed when I saw that legislators’ wish list that had nothing to do with coronavirus related expenses, including the Statehouse. Alabama is going to be in a position where we need to spend money to ramp up testing, to do the contact tracing, do the quarantining plan that is going to be necessary should we see more spikes. I think that is where this money needs to go,” Jones said.

As of Thursday, more than 11,600 people in the state had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and about 470 people statewide had died.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 91935

Reported Deaths: 2780
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6903153
DeSoto532153
Harrison368771
Jackson334367
Madison318086
Rankin313473
Lee254066
Jones236078
Forrest231069
Washington215671
Lafayette203039
Lauderdale1984123
Bolivar177465
Oktibbeha173749
Lamar156633
Neshoba1524103
Panola140926
Sunflower138543
Lowndes138457
Warren136650
Leflore134380
Pontotoc120416
Pike120148
Monroe117665
Scott115925
Copiah115433
Coahoma110927
Holmes108458
Marshall106714
Grenada104535
Lincoln104453
Yazoo103429
Simpson100142
Union96524
Tate94537
Leake93535
Adams89135
Wayne87121
Pearl River84850
Marion83633
Covington79321
Prentiss78617
Alcorn75310
Newton74722
Itawamba74121
George73913
Tallahatchie73418
Winston71919
Tishomingo65035
Attala63625
Chickasaw63524
Tippah63516
Walthall58925
Clay56216
Hancock55420
Noxubee54015
Jasper53615
Clarke52538
Smith51714
Calhoun50612
Tunica47213
Montgomery45020
Claiborne44916
Lawrence42212
Yalobusha41314
Perry39016
Humphreys36915
Quitman3625
Stone34611
Greene33516
Webster32813
Jefferson Davis32211
Carroll30812
Amite30710
Wilkinson30117
Kemper28515
Sharkey25812
Jefferson2359
Benton2151
Franklin1863
Choctaw1775
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18648332
Mobile12949288
Montgomery8560170
Madison736573
Tuscaloosa7015112
Lee558259
Shelby550149
Baldwin502148
Marshall376342
Etowah326344
Calhoun321139
Morgan312925
Houston260621
Elmore247547
DeKalb230119
St. Clair218134
Walker217780
Talladega199925
Limestone191919
Cullman180017
Franklin172728
Dallas172526
Russell16912
Autauga162424
Lauderdale159231
Colbert157224
Escambia154324
Blount150413
Jackson146610
Chilton143325
Dale128042
Covington127027
Coffee12388
Pike11329
Tallapoosa112483
Chambers110642
Clarke104417
Marion91428
Butler90238
Barbour8097
Marengo69319
Winston68512
Lowndes64327
Pickens62214
Bibb6179
Hale60828
Bullock58514
Randolph58512
Lawrence57620
Monroe5708
Washington54513
Geneva5404
Perry5356
Wilcox52911
Cherokee52816
Clay5187
Conecuh51611
Crenshaw51531
Macon46619
Henry4524
Sumter41719
Fayette4128
Choctaw34212
Lamar3302
Cleburne3116
Greene29915
Coosa1573
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
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