ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state Legislative Budget and Audit Committee on Friday authorized $125 million of the state's $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding for certain items, specifically education, child nutrition programs, public safety and public transportation, following the submission of a revised allocation plan by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
The committee authorized six specific spending proposals through the Revised Program Legislative process, including $45 million for K-12 education; $42 million for child nutrition programs; $29 million for rural transportation costs, including the marine highway; $5 million for University of Alaska; $3.6 million for state and local law enforcement; and $422,000 for the Alaska State Council on the Arts, according to a release from the Alaska Senate Majority.
“Delivering these funds as quickly, widely and appropriately as possible to Alaskans is our top priority,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel in a prepared statement. “Today’s progress was the result of hard work and collaboration between members of the House, Senate and governor’s office. It remains our shared goal to swiftly disburse the remaining funds.”
The committee has the ability to represent the Legislature through the Revised Program Legislative process. It approved the first of several appropriations on Friday, and is expected to address larger appropriations next week.
Giessel said the plan was that the next time the Legislature convenes, it can ratify the committee's decision.
In Friday's press briefing providing an update on coronavirus cases and related actions in the state, Gov. Mike Dunleavy specifically said he does not expect to have the make the call for the Legislature to reconvene, as he believes the RPL allows for the funding allocations to be made by the committee.
"We believe we have categorized the money in accordance with the federal intentions and needs in Alaska," Dunleavy said. "(The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee) has heard that plan, and LB&A has decided certain aspects of the plan - the CARES Act - that we've submitted is okay, but there's others that aren't.
"We've simply asked them to do this as quickly as possible, to get this money out to those entities that need it now," he said. "LB&A just has to make a decision here pretty quick."
Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, the co-chair of LB&A, maintains that the Legislature needs to reconvene and that using the RPL process for the larger appropriations is unconstitutional, even if the full Legislature ratifies them retrospectively.
Dunleavy's revised plan for the distribution of CARES Act funding, which follows an initial release on April 21, details distribution amounts for more than a dozen different items, some of which do not require RPL.
As for LB&A, it has recessed until 1:00 p.m. next Wednesday, May 6, when it will reconvene and take up some of the remaining items.
Sean Maguire contributed to this report.
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