Governor calls special session on COVID-19 relief funds

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 2:16 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2022 at 6:46 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered the Legislature’s first special session of 2022.

The session will address how the state will use the remaining first round funds from the American Rescue Plan.

According to Tuesday’s proclamation, there is about $443 million left unspent that would be used for pandemic-related health care and related services and reimbursement. This is from the state’s coronavirus fiscal recovery fund.

More than $136 million may be used for broadband services and expansion, as well as reimbursement for certain inmates who were housed in county jails. This comes from the fiscal recovery revenue replacement fund.

A separate allocation from the capital projects fund may use almost $192 million for broadband services.

Lawmakers must decide how to distribute these round one ARPA funds before the federal deadline this summer. The second round of ARPA funds will come after that.

The special session will begin on Jan. 19.

“While states like Alabama are making record economic comebacks, Congress and the Biden White House are wanting our country to spend more and more federal dollars, and now we are tasked with allocating the American Rescue Plan Act funds. I have made clear, that unlike Washington, D.C., Alabama will be wise with these one-time, federal dollars,” Ivey said in a statement.

“I again urge the members of the Legislature to direct these funds to meet some of Alabama’s biggest challenges like statewide broadband connectivity, water and sewer infrastructure, as well as investing funds in our hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers.

“We must be smart with these one-time, federal dollars by wisely investing – not just casually spending them. This is not free money.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed, R-Jasper, also released a statement: “I applaud the Governor for taking this step and making the appropriation of ARPA funds a top priority. Legislative leadership has been actively engaged in discussions with the governor’s office on the possibility of this special session, and we think this is the best way forward to ensure that the funds are allocated in the most impactful and expeditious manner possible. I am confident my colleagues will advance a fiscally responsible plan that ultimately sees these significant funds invested in a way that aids pandemic recovery but also benefits generations of Alabamians to come.”

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