The state Legislative Budget & Audit Committee today authorized $125 million for education, child nutrition programs, public safety and public transportation from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Authorization of these initial budget items by the legislative committee was in accordance with a revised proposal from Governor Mike Dunleavy.
“Today was a great first step in executing a tranche of CARES Act funding out to the people of Alaska,” said Senator Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, vice-chairman of the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee. “Hopefully by Wednesday we get the remaining balance of those funds out to communities. I want to thank all involved, from the governor’s administration to the House and Senate, who’ve worked tirelessly to get us to this point.”
“Delivering these funds as quickly, widely and appropriately as possible to Alaskans is our top priority,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel. “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.”
“Alaskans need help, and they need it fast – and these funds reflect that urgency,” said Senator Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “But, our work is not done. We are still working closely with the administration on distributing additional funds. We’re also working closely with the congressional delegation to make sure Alaskans get necessary assistance and understand the resources available to them.”
The committee today approved six spending proposals through the Revised Program Legislative (RPL) process:
- $45 million for K-12 education;
- $42 million for child nutrition programs;
- $29 million for rural transportation costs, including the marine highway (Anchorage and Fairbanks receive federal funds separately);
- $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.
The Legislative Budget & Audit Committee recessed until 1pm Wednesday, May 6, when they plan to take up the remaining items.