MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama legislature has regular business to attend to in 2022, but lawmakers could be eyeing a special session dedicated to how to spend unused funds from last year’s American Rescue Plan.
Lawmakers already plan on business as usual by setting state and education budgets, addressing legislation on guns and a lottery, but now it needs to decide how to use an extra half a billion dollars. That money is the state’s share of American Rescue Plan, or ARPA, funds.
The decision on a special session is expected in the coming days. Governor Kay Ivey has asked the legislature to make it an early priority.
Last year saw the state’s largest general fund budget yet at $2.4 billion. Now, in addition to a normal budget, the legislature will have to decide how to spend the extra equivalent of 24% of the state’s general budget.
ARPA funds for this year totals $580 million for Alabama lawmakers to spend. That’s one-time money and there’s still another $1 billion that’s coming to the state.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon says legislators are first going to figure out how to spend $580 million and they don’t want to tangle those decisions with the rest of the budget. The Governor offered some ideas during her State of the State speech last week.
“I challenge you, members of the legislature, to make allocating these funds an early priority and to put these monies to meet some Alabama’s biggest challenges like statewide broadband connectivity, water and sewer infrastructure, as well as investing funds in our hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers,” Ivey said.
It’s up to the governor to decide if there will be a special session.