The Alaska Legislature convened this week to take up federal CARES Act funding in response to a lawsuit challenging the legality of how the funds were authorized. Part of this billion-dollar package includes money for the Community Assistance Program, which aids local municipal governments.
Tuesday morning, Kodiak came one step closer to receiving additional financial assistance to help recover from the COVID-19 economic fallout.
The Alaska House of Representatives passed House Bill 313 by a vote of 38-1 to transfer over $1.5 billion in federal emergency relief funding that, according to a Alaska House Majority press release, will put more money “into the hands of Alaskan individuals, businesses, communities, and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The money will be distributed under specific initiatives, called Revised Program Legislative Process, or RPLs. The RPL process is a way for the legislature to accept additional out-of-state funds for items that had already been budget approved.
One of the more notable items includes funding for the Community Assistance Program, which has traditionally been an important part of local municipal budgets.
Under the state’s distribution, $586.5 million will be distributed to local municipalities based on the Community Assistance Program model. The formula for the current model has been in place since 2016, and is based on a $30 million statewide appropriation. For example, each Alaskan borough receives a base amount of $300,000, plus $14.16 per resident.
In the current fiscal year, the Kodiak Island Borough was due to receive over $400,000 based on this model. The money was originally in the legislature’s budget; however, Governor Mike Dunleavy vetoed that money, indicating that federal money from the federal CARES Act will be used to replace it.
Under this current plan, the borough is slated to receive nearly $5.8 million, and the City of Kodiak nearly $12 million in this Community Assistance package.
The total federal funding package also includes money for small businesses, fisheries, and education.
Once ratified, the bill will soon be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Other good news from the federal CARES Act funding:
Local businesses having trouble making ends meet and unsuccessful at securing money from last month’s Paycheck Protection Program can expect some more relief. An additional statewide $290 million will be used to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19 by providing grants for businesses that were unable to obtain money through the Paycheck Protection Program.
$100 million is included for Alaska fisheries, including charter operators and fishing tour guides.
And $45 million is allocated to help stabilize K-12 classrooms impacted by COVID-19.
How these education and fisheries funds are distributed will be determined by the appropriate state office, especially as it relates to education, which has led to some confusion locally.
Kodiak Island Borough Manager Michael Powers wrote in a recent manager’s budget for the Borough Assembly that direction from the governor’s office has been “murky, at best, (on a) path forward to supplant Federal dollars for State dollars.”
You can read a breakdown of the economic relief plan here.