Some fuming after CARES dollars diverted to pay jobless claims

At issue are counties and cities that failed to file all their stimulus reimbursement claims by early this week.
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 8:17 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WTVY) -A group of Alabama lawmakers has diverted about $87 million in CARES act money to pay unemployment claims, angering those who believe that move cost local governments stimulus benefits.

At issue are counties and cities that failed to file all their stimulus reimbursement claims by early this week.

Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) said those filings were due December 30, also the final day federal stimulus dollars could be spent. However, the state finance department gave applicants 12 additional days, with a final cutoff on Monday.

“At some point we had to stop the clock,” Clouse told WTVY. He said the state unemployment trust fund needed that unclaimed money due to the high number jobless benefits paid during the pandemic.

However, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama said there had been no clear-cut deadline issued for filing reimbursement paperwork.

“We want to assure you that counties were on track to file for reimbursement and to utilize their full reimbursement allocations when this unexpected decision was announced,” Executive Director Sonny Brasfield wrote in a letter to state leaders.

Despite his objections, Brasfield admits that Clouse and the other lawmakers had authority to transfer that money.

“But it is important to me that you recognize your county officials and employees did not drop the ball,” he wrote. “You can’t spend money on December 29 and submit a reimbursement for it on December 30,” he later told WSFA television.

Alabama Finance Director Kelly Butler promises applications submitted after January 11 will be considered if Alabama receives additional stimulus funds as is expected after President-Elect Joe Biden takes office next week.

Besides Clouse, lawmakers who approved transferring the money to pay unemployment benefits include Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, Rep. Bill Poole and Alabama State Senators Greg Albritton and Arthur Orr.

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