MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama has about six weeks to spend almost $1 billion in remaining coronavirus relief funds or the money will revert to Washington, D.C., prompting concerns from advocacy groups the state will leave money on the table that could be used to help hurting Alabamians.
States have until Dec. 30 to spend their share of CARES Act dollars or the money must be returned. Alabama has so far spent about $850 million of its $1.7 billion allocation, according to a dashboard maintained by the state Department of Finance.
“We’re in the same situation as all the other states,” said Rep. Steve Clouse, who heads the House General Fund budget committee. Clouse said he is concerned the state might have as much as $400 million unspent by the end of the year, and added the state may not have a choice but to send the money back unless Congress extends the deadline.
More than 80 organizations, including advocacy groups for low-income families and people with disabilities, sent Republican Gov. Kay Ivey a letter suggesting ways to use the money. The groups noted Alabama was one of the poorest states in the country, with 800,000 residents living in poverty “before this pandemic devastated the economy.”
“These CARES Act funds provide our best hope to ensure the economic downturn does not force these families into long term, catastrophic conditions that will impact generations to come,” said the letter signed by Alabama Arise, Alabama Appleseed and other organizations.