BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The clock is ticking on almost a billion dollars in federal funds for the state of Alabama. The CARES Act sent Alabama $1.7 billion. $900 million is left to be spent by the deadline of December 31.
"If you look at the Cornavirus Relief Fund website run by the Alabama Finance Department, it shows the state has been spent $6 million out of $37 million for COVID-19 testing. I would say testing has to be a priority,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, UAB Infectious Diseases.
Governor Ivey’s administration has indicated it’s their hope to spend all of the money for testing. A spokeswoman for Governor Ivey says they plan to get the money into the hands of those who need it most.
"Am I concerned? Yes. Do I think the state and finance department is doing what they can? I do, but we want to spend those resources every way possible,” Sen. Greg Reed of Jasper said.
Senator Reed said restrictions by the US Treasury Department has limited how those funds can be used. “If we spend the money on something not approved by the Department of the Treasury, what happens? The answer to that - the state of Alabama must pay it back,” Reed said.
Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens still hopes to receive federal funds to help them expand Wi-Fi for county students. "Any additional funds that would be needed and necessary above and beyond what we have, we would like to partner with the state,” Stephens said.
A spokeswoman for Governor Ivey indicated she was working to see if the CARES Act funding can help out small businesses in Alabama. Perhaps something on future expenditures including small businesses may be coming soon. Sen. Reed would like to see congress meet and loosen those restrictions on what the money can be used for.