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Poll: Alabama Republicans support legislature, not Ivey, appropriating COVID-19 relief funds

MONTGOMERY — Yellowhammer News on Tuesday obtained polling that shows an overwhelming majority of Alabama Republicans support the state legislature appropriating federal COVID-19 relief funds rather than Governor Kay Ivey.

In the wake of a much-publicized row over how the state will handle appropriating federal CARES Act dollars, the Alabama Senate and House Republican Caucuses commissioned a survey by Cygnal, a Montgomery-based, nationally respected polling firm.

Cygnal founder and CEO Brent Buchanan spearheaded Ivey’s campaign in 2018.

The survey featured a wide range of questions, including favorability tests for both Ivey and the Republican members of the legislature in general.

Asked their overall opinion of Ivey, 69.5% responded favorably compared to 26.2% unfavorably.

Republicans in the state legislature actually received higher marks on the same question, with 70.3% responding favorably compared to just 16.1% unfavorably.

The survey also specifically asked respondents about whether they support Ivey’s handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. To this question, 66% indicated that they approve of her job performance while 26.9% do not approve.

Perhaps the most pressing question received the most clear-cut result.

The survey asked, “Do you believe Governor Ivey should have sole discretion over how to spend any federal stimulus money coming to Alabama, or should the money be appropriated through the normal legislative process allowing for public input?”

Responding to this prompt, 67.5% answered that the legislature should appropriate the money, compared to only 17.8% saying Ivey should have sole discretion.

The Fiscal Year 2021 General Fund budget package passed by the legislature last week would allow Ivey to spend up to $200 million of the approximately $1.8 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds afforded to the state by the CARES Act. The legislature believes this would allow Ivey enough funds to make emergency purchases and timely reimbursements, while the rest of the total sum could be appropriated in a special session, allowing input from each district in the state and a fully transparent process through committees and floor debate.

However, Ivey has indicated, according to House Ways and Means General Fund Chairman Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), that she may veto the General Fund over the CARES Act funding issue. The governor’s office in a statement told Yellowhammer News, “All options are on the table.”

Cygnal’s poll was in the field from May 7-10 and surveyed 607 respondents. The margin of error was ±3.98.

A polling memo is available here.

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

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