Vote provides certainty that CARES Act funds will go out; House ends legislative session
JUNEAU – The House of Representatives voted today to get $1.5 billion in federal emergency relief funding into the hands of Alaskan individuals, businesses, communities, and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Bill 313 passed 38-1 this morning, ratifying the previous action of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee to allocate the money sent to Alaska through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. With this critical vote completed, the House of Representatives formally ended the legislative session by adjourning sine die.
“Everyone in the House of Representatives put their political swords down and worked together to authorize CARES Act funding to get it in the hands of Alaskans who urgently need it,” said House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham). “As soon as the Senate ratifies this bill, communities, businesses, and families will see hundreds of millions of federal dollars come through to help tide them over as we all deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The federal relief funds will be directed to the following initiatives in our state:
- $568.6 million to help communities and local governments impacted by COVID-19, distributed in a model that follows the precedent set by the longstanding Community Assistance Program.
- $290 million for the state to provide relief to Alaska small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The money will be distributed through grants at the direction of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. DCCED estimates this funding will help 10,000 small businesses that were unable to obtain loans through the federal Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
- $100 million in economic stimulus for Alaska fisheries, which will help a wide variety of individuals and entities that rely on fishing and will be impacted by the substantial reduction in revenue associated with diminished opportunities to fish commercially or operate charters and guided fishing tours.
- $51.6 million directed in the federal CARES Act to be used for rural airports and other programs managed by the Alaska Department of Transportation, money which will go toward improvement of the statewide aviation and rural airport systems where additional needs have occurred due to COVID-19, as well as funds for the Whittier Tunnel.
- $45 million to help stabilize K-12 classrooms impacted by COVID-19.
- $42 million for child nutrition programs that serve children forced out of school by the pandemic.
- $29 million to address rural transportation costs, including the Alaska Marine Highway System.
- $10 million for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to help prevent homelessness. By helping people make mortgage and rent payments, Alaskans will be less likely to become homeless. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some people experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of moderate to severe symptoms of COVID-19.
- $5 million for direct financial aid grants to help University of Alaska students, and to help minimize systemic impacts of COVID-19 on the university system.
- $3.6 million in critical funding for state, local, and tribal governments to provide a range of programs including law enforcement, prosecution, indigent defense, courts, crime prevention and education, corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and more.
Alaska House Majority