Alaska State Legislature approves one billion dollars in CARES Act relief funds

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Alaska State Legislature has approved one billion dollars in CARES Act relief funds for communities, small businesses, and state industries.

The Legislative Budget & Audit Committee discusses the appropriation of CARES Act funds on Monday. (Media Services, Legislative Affairs)

The money, which has been turned over to the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED) to distribute across the state in the form of grants, had been in the hands of the Legislative Budget & Audit (LB&A) Committee to appropriate.

It was finally released on Monday – with contention from the committee’s chair as well as other Alaska lawmakers that some of the items were not legal to appropriate without the full legislature convening to appropriate them.

The following is a full breakdown of where the money has been allocated:
• $568.6 million for community assistance;
• $290 million in grants for small businesses;
• $50 million for fisheries;
• $49 million for the statewide aviation and rural airport system;
• $10 million for homeless assistance;
• $1.4 million to offset waived Measurement Standards and Commercial Vehicle Compliance fees;
• $1.2 million to ensure continued operation of the Whittier Access and Tunnel; and
• $465,000 to cover Northern Region Highways & Aviation personnel costs on the Dalton Highway.

“People have already been calling me today saying 'thank you so much' for the passage of that money last night,” said Senator Click Bishop (R – Fairbanks), who is vice-chair of LB&A. He warns, however, that it make take DCCED some time before a framework for disbursing the money is established. “I’m not going to speak for the administration, but I’ll say it’s probably going to take them several weeks to get this process dialed in.”

DCCED could not provide a comment at this time.

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