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: 315026

Reported Deaths: 7257
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21684260
Hinds20385416
Harrison17973309
Rankin13650278
Jackson13456246
Madison10130217
Lee9988174
Jones8388163
Forrest7701152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6411148
Lamar624686
Lafayette6210119
Washington5342134
Bolivar4804132
Oktibbeha463298
Panola4601107
Pearl River4524146
Marshall4454103
Warren4397121
Pontotoc421172
Monroe4120133
Union411276
Neshoba4033176
Lincoln3972110
Hancock380287
Leflore3500125
Sunflower336490
Tate335484
Pike3330105
Scott316773
Alcorn313670
Yazoo311870
Itawamba300877
Copiah297865
Coahoma295979
Simpson295388
Tippah289068
Adams288682
Prentiss280360
Marion269680
Leake268673
Wayne262941
Grenada261987
Covington260381
George249448
Newton246963
Winston227881
Tishomingo227567
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208457
Holmes189174
Clay185654
Stone183033
Tallahatchie179041
Clarke178180
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164838
Smith162734
Walthall134345
Greene130633
Lawrence129324
Montgomery127242
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121929
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107233
Tunica105726
Claiborne102530
Benton100125
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67631
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540267

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798791529
Mobile41295809
Madison35175506
Tuscaloosa25932455
Shelby25309249
Montgomery24736593
Baldwin21422310
Lee15997172
Calhoun14577319
Morgan14431280
Etowah13927353
Marshall12280225
Houston10650282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10075151
St. Clair9955245
Cullman9773194
Lauderdale9465243
DeKalb8866188
Talladega8344176
Walker7261278
Autauga7010108
Jackson6840112
Blount6776139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5583118
Dale4878113
Russell445938
Chilton4383113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia395177
Chambers3598123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303698
Winston275873
Bibb264864
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219069
Fayette213162
Henry190043
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178241
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153657
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140753
Wilcox127430
Bullock123342
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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