Alabama Legislature approves spending for $772 million in COVID relief funds

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Alabama lawmakers have approved a plan to spend $772 million in federal pandemic relief dollars on the expansion of high-speed Internet access, water and sewer projects, health care needs, AL.com reported.

The House passed the bill 100-0, and the Senate passed it 26-0.

Gov. Kay Ivey commended the Alabama Legislature upon final passage of legislation to appropriate the American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Ivey commented, “I am pleased Alabama will use these one-time federal dollars wisely thanks to the strong work by our Legislature. I commend our legislators for their efficient work in directing these funds to meet some of Alabama’s toughest challenges. We are making smart investments to increase statewide broadband connectivity, improve our water and sewer infrastructure, as well as health care infrastructure. We are also addressing measures to reduce employment taxes paid by Alabama businesses as they continue to rebound from the pandemic. This was an overwhelmingly bipartisan effort by the men and women of the Alabama Legislature, and I am proud of their good work in dealing with the task the federal government dealt us.”

The plan received support from the Republican majority and the Democratic minority in both chambers.

The plan allocates what remains of Alabama’s first portion of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Lawmakers voted last year to spend $400 million in ARPA funds to help build two prisons and provide $80 million to hospitals and nursing homes.

Alabama will receive the second portion, $1.06 billion, in May or June.

The plan approved today allocates:

$277 million for broadband expansion.

$225 million for water and sewer infrastructure projects.

$80 million for hospitals and nursing homes.

$79.5 million for Alabama’s unemployment compensation trust fund to restore it to near the level of January 2020.

$37 million for health care services through assisted living facilities, mental health, rehabilitative services, and other entities.

$30 million for rural hospitals.

$20 million for emergency medical responders, including $10 million for volunteer fire departments.

$11 million for counties to help pay for state inmates held in county jails because of the pandemic.

$7.8 million for the cost of the reporting and auditing requirements for using the money.

$5 million for telemedicine.