Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, with Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, left, and First Lady Britainy Beshear, places a flag at the state Capitol to memorialize Kentuckians who have died of complications from COVID-19. In Kentucky and at least three other states, lawmakers are trying to gain control over funds allocated to their state under the latest federal COVID-19 relief package. Photo Credit: Ryan C. Hermens Lexington Herald-Leader via The Associated Press
March 31, 2021
With states set to receive billions of dollars in federal aid, lawmakers and governors are sparring over who should decide how to spend the cash.
Look no further than Kentucky, where Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear chose how to spend $1.5 billion in federal coronavirus aid last spring. Now another $2.4 billion is on the way, and Republican lawmakers have blocked Beshear from divvying up the latest windfall without their permission.
“Our constitution in Kentucky only vests spending authority with the General Assembly,” said Kentucky state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican and co-chair of the budget committee. McDaniel said the legislature’s proposed budget will clarify that authority.
Bills in at least three other states—Connecticut, West Virginia and Wisconsin—also would let lawmakers control the aid states receive from the American Rescue Plan Act, which President Joe Biden signed earlier this month. The law gives states and the District of Columbia $195 billion to spend on broadly defined purposes, such as fighting the pandemic and boosting the economy.