Stevens: State still figuring out CARES Act funds for communities

May 5, 2020

Credit State of Alaska

District P Senator Gary Stevens is back home in Kodiak and self-quarantining in his home. That’s where KBBI’s Jay Barrett caught up with him on Monday to get the latest on the federal CARES Act money sent to the State of Alaska, with some bound directly for its communities.

    Stevens:    “We are sort of confused about the federal requirements and so we’re trying to move through those, you know, the, I think it was about 800 page document, the federal loan program on covert 19 on the cares act. So it's very long, very complex. And, um, and we're trying to figure out the best way to. Get the money to our communities as quickly as possible.
“That's, that's a key thing right now. Just get that money out the door. Not debate it, not spend a lot of time on it, but rather move it from the federal government to local communities where they need it and can use it. So that's the big issue right now is how, how best to do that.”

    KBBI:    “There's been some talk about whether the money is to be used for direct replacement of Covid-related expenditures or can be used for a placement of lost community revenue.”

    Stevens:    “Well, that's the big problem and it's not that the state is trying to draw, you know, trying to make that decision. It's a federal issue and they're giving us the money. Through the state to our communities. And they are the ones that make up the rules. And right now it's quite, um, confusing, uh, because, um, you know, many of our communities would like to use all of our communities so I can lose, use that money for loss revenue for lost sales tax for the lost property tax. But if you read the law, um, and at one point it says you can't use the money for that, and you can only only use it for direct COVID related expenses. So that's the big issue where we're trying to get through it. It may require more legislation on the federal level in order to allow us to do that, but certainly our communities would very much like to have to have access to that money to be able to use it.
“They were also trying to get more money to the boroughs. And, uh, there were, you know, it's sort of a complex system, but primarily we've used that money use getting that money. It's $562.5 million, and that will go out to the community from the state administration, from the governance office.
“And half of that is to be based on, uh, the formula we've used for years, which is revenue sharing that we've, we've had community rather than sharing over the last 20 years I've been there. And, um. And so this money would be half of what would come up that way. The other half would have to come out through a very confusing formula that we have not been presented. The administration has that -- we've asked for it, and it comes through the department of commerce. So Jay, that's, that's where we are. We, um, are working hard to try to get some money to the communities as quickly as possible. We don't want to go on a hold back on that. We don't want to put people in jeopardy. The question is what can they use those funds for. “

    District P Senator Gary Stevens speaking with KBBI’s Jay Barrett.