Alabama Gov. Ivey signs bill reallocating $400 million in COVID-19 relief funds to build new prisons

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is hitting back after criticism over plans to use coronavirus pandemic relief funds provided by the federal government to finance the construction of new prisons in the Southern state.

Lawmakers focused on a $1.3 billion prison construction plan to build at least three new prisons and renovate others. The projects would be done in phases and funded with a $785 million bond issue, $150 million in general fund dollars and $400 million from the state’s $2.2 billion share of American Rescue Plan funds.

Ivey and Republican legislative leaders have defended the use of the virus funds, saying it will enable the state to essentially “pay cash” for part of the construction and avoid using state dollars as well as paying interest on a loan. “Using the funding in this way,” Ivey said, aimed to provide an “Alabama solution to this Alabama problem” [Independent].

“The Democrat-controlled federal government has never had an issue with throwing trillions of dollars toward their ideological pet projects,” Ivey said in a statement on Tuesday. “These prisons need to be built, and we have crafted a fiscally conservative plan.”

The fallout comes after Ivey convened a special session of the Alabama legislature on Monday to address the state’s ailing prison infrastructure, which she admitted was “broken” [Democratic Underground].



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