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House General Fund chair: Ivey could veto budget over COVID-19 relief funds

MONTGOMERY — State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) on Friday released a statement saying that Governor Kay Ivey has “indicated” that she will veto the Fiscal Year 2021 General Fund budget that passed the Alabama legislature on Thursday.

Clouse is the House Ways and Means General Fund committee chairman.

His statement follows Ivey on Thursday announcing that she was relinquishing spending control over all of the approximately $1.8 billion in coronavirus relief funds made available to the State by the federal government through the CARES Act.

The General Fund budget package passed by the legislature allowed Ivey to spend up to $200 million of that total amount in order for emergency purchases and reimbursements to be immediately made whenever necessary.

Funds appropriated by the legislature would have to come through a special session later in the year, so legislators have explained that some of the monies would best be controlled by the executive branch in order to ensure timely, responsive spending for healthcare-related expenses.

However, Clouse’s statement asserted that Ivey would veto the budget because she does not want control over the $200 million in CARES Act funds.

“Governor Ivey has indicated she will veto the budget we sent to her yesterday as she plans to cede full authority over COVID-19 funds to the Alabama Legislature,” Clouse stated.

Yellowhammer News’ request to the governor’s office for comment was not immediately returned.

Clouse called on the governor “to reconsider her decision to relinquish all responsibility over COVID-19 funding.”

“Just like it would be too easy for us to defer to the Governor completely, it is counterproductive for her to shift all responsibility to us,” he added. “We do not have the luxury of a power tug-of-war or political games — too much is at stake. Alabamians deserve leaders who can work together and it’s time for us to step up.”

The General Fund budget passed the House by a vote of 75-1. The Senate then quickly voted 30-0 to concur with the House-passed version of the budget bill. A simple majority of each chamber would be needed to override an Ivey veto, should that occur.

UPDATE 4:50 p.m.

Asked for comment on Clouse’s statement that the governor has indicated she will veto the General Fund budget, Ivey’s spokesperson responded, “All options are on the table.”

This story is breaking news and may be updated.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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