Throughout the latter half of the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers speculated about the possibility Gov. Kay Ivey would call a special session later in the year to address allocating the second traunch of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) COVID relief funds granted to Alabama by Congress.
However, critics have cautioned Montgomery about being in a rush to allocate those funds. They say more money in the Alabama economy could exacerbate already-high inflationary pressures, and there is no need because the state's coffers are flush with cash.
During an interview with Huntsville radio WVNN's "The Yaffee Program," State Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, also argued there was no urgency for a special session before the 2023 regular session.
According to Scofield, the second round of ARPA money had "a little more scrutiny" from the U.S. Treasury on how it could be used and, therefore, will require more time.
Scofield said, "As of right now, it is still firmly up in the air whether or not we even need to have a special session or if we can, in fact, wait until potentially around our organizational session or in coordination with our organizational session in January, or if in fact we can wait until the regular session and maybe do another, like we did last time which I thought worked very well, have kind of a bump-out special session within the regular session. It's still a little up in the air.
"We're investing in broadband. We're investing in water and sewer and other things, and there are challenges in that with the labor market to install that infrastructure, supply chain issues on fiber, on the technology involving broadband, or pipes and sewer covers and manholes and all [that's] involved on the sewer and water assets."
According to the Marshall County lawmaker, there was still time to consider options based on the ARPA statute.
"So, you know, again, we have until 2024 to appropriate this money and then until 2026 to finally spend the money," Scofield said. "I'm not sure that there's a whole lot of rush. I was very pleased with how we approached the last round of ARPA – you know, very deliberately, and we really looked at it more toward OK, this is one-time money that, frankly, our kids are going to be on the hook for a really long time. And we need to make sure that we invest it in key areas that hopefully will provide them with more opportunities and a better future. And this round, we're not going to treat it any differently. We're going to be very studious, methodical and deliberate in how we invest these dollars."
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
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