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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.

Cases: 156868

Reported Deaths: 3851
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10563104
Hinds10414204
Harrison7397113
Jackson6655128
Rankin6057107
Lee540396
Madison5120107
Forrest394786
Jones376188
Lauderdale3663147
Lafayette341053
Washington3321108
Lamar301950
Oktibbeha255262
Lowndes252867
Bolivar248084
Panola237353
Neshoba2280122
Marshall225051
Leflore211191
Monroe209778
Pontotoc208131
Lincoln200566
Sunflower194155
Warren183058
Tate180451
Union172926
Copiah170840
Pike166760
Scott161330
Yazoo161340
Itawamba159936
Alcorn159328
Pearl River158969
Coahoma155943
Prentiss154931
Simpson154053
Adams147252
Grenada145445
Leake141844
Holmes134461
Covington130040
Tippah130030
George129525
Winston128726
Hancock127641
Wayne123024
Attala122834
Marion121447
Tishomingo114043
Chickasaw110732
Newton110529
Tallahatchie99427
Clay96127
Clarke94853
Jasper87023
Stone82015
Calhoun79513
Walthall79330
Montgomery78426
Carroll75515
Lawrence74614
Smith74216
Yalobusha74228
Noxubee73317
Perry68726
Tunica63019
Greene62422
Jefferson Davis59617
Claiborne59216
Amite57615
Humphreys55219
Quitman5107
Benton50418
Kemper48018
Webster47714
Wilkinson40722
Jefferson38312
Choctaw3637
Franklin3635
Sharkey32917
Issaquena1214
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 256828

Reported Deaths: 3711
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34214511
Mobile20299366
Madison13925150
Tuscaloosa13591156
Montgomery12659238
Shelby1095877
Baldwin9163137
Lee792566
Morgan710851
Etowah677467
Calhoun6695121
Marshall665757
Houston548239
DeKalb504738
Cullman472043
St. Clair451857
Limestone447546
Lauderdale436054
Elmore427564
Walker3818111
Talladega374457
Jackson350723
Colbert336443
Blount310043
Autauga287342
Franklin259734
Coffee254115
Dale242054
Dallas232932
Chilton230841
Russell22813
Covington227934
Escambia206131
Tallapoosa189191
Chambers185950
Pike162214
Clarke161819
Marion146136
Winston141924
Lawrence135336
Pickens127720
Geneva12638
Marengo125224
Bibb123938
Barbour120629
Butler118842
Randolph105922
Cherokee105524
Hale99732
Fayette96316
Clay93525
Washington93319
Henry8946
Monroe83811
Lowndes82129
Cleburne79914
Macon76522
Crenshaw72930
Conecuh72414
Lamar7138
Bullock70919
Perry6927
Wilcox64918
Sumter58922
Greene44218
Choctaw43519
Coosa3724
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