EDITOR, Daily News:
The State of Alaska has received significant federal relief funding during COVID-19. We have received funds in three tranches — the CARES Act in March 2020, CRRSA Act in December 2020, and ARP Act in March 2021.
The most recent federal appropriation bill, American Rescue Plan Act, provides an additional $1.45 billion to Alaska. $250 million of that amount will go straight to local governments and $370 million will go to school districts.
In general, the specified uses for federal relief funds have become more flexible over time; the CARES Act had a narrow requirement and short timeline for what the funds could cover, whereas the ARP Act generally has more flexibility in spending power. For example, the CARES Act funding was unable to backfill lost revenue, which was particularly harmful to port communities. Because of the lack of a tourism season, the City of Ketchikan was paying big infrastructure costs while simultaneously losing $33 million in revenue, primarily in the form of sales taxes from visitors.
Although the ARP Act funds are eligible for backfilling lost revenue, the amount received by the City of Ketchikan and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is still far below the amount of revenue they lost. The total amount combined that both the city and the borough will receive is estimated to be about $4.4 million.
The funds outlined above are what the Ketchikan city and borough will receive directly from the federal government.
The state will receive additional funding to be appropriated by the Legislature, yet to be determined. If you have any questions about COVID-19 relief funds or input on how the Legislature can distribute the additional funds, don’t hesitate to email me at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov or call my office.
REP. DAN ORTIZ
House District 36