On January 20, 2020, the first case of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was diagnosed by officials in Washington State and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). In the coming weeks the United States saw a sharp rise in confirmed coronavirus cases, eventually elevating to pandemic status.
As the coronavirus outbreak widened, federal, state, and local governments began an unprecedented response. Citizens were asked to wear face coverings when in public, many businesses were forced to shut down, and American life as we know it immediately changed.
The response also meant an influx of relief money from the federal government. In total, the State of Alabama received $1.9 billion in stimulus funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).
Unfortunately, much of Alabama’s funds have gone towards growing government and narrowly focused grant programs that allow state officials to choose winners and losers. Instead of targeted relief that could have helped all Alabamians, too frequently Governor Kay Ivey and other state officials chose to invest in government instead of the citizens that government is bound to serve. All aspects of state government remained essential, and many saw increased funding, while “non-essential” private sector jobs and businesses were forced to shut down for a time. Some never reopened.
CARES Act funds were intended to help states and local communities support the health and economic needs of individuals and businesses devasted by the coronavirus pandemic–devastation which was magnified in no small degree by government mandated business shutdowns. Alabama state government has thus far fallen short of meeting that goal in its use of CARES money, but with nearly half a billion dollars in funds still available, there is still an opportunity to use those funds to improve the lives of all Alabamians.
This report will examine how Alabama’s Coronavirus Relief Funds have been spent, and how the state should use the remainder to provide direct aid to individuals and businesses impacted by the pandemic. Topics discussed include:
Congress Passes Massive COVID-19 Relief Package
Legislative and Executive Branches Fight Over Who Can Spend CARES Act Funds
Governor Ivey Designates Uses of CARES Act Funding
Missteps in How Alabama Has Spent CARES Act Funding
Alabama Economy Fares Better Than Some States, but Worse Than Those with Less Restrictions
Alabama Should Use Remaining CARES Act Funding to Provide Tax Relief