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Ducey begins to dole out aid dollars

Money stack. piles of cash

Gov. Doug Ducey is beginning to dole out money that state lawmakers gave him to deal with COVID-19 before they went into recess.

A new report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee finds that the state is allocating the biggest chunk of the first $55 million approved last month for medical supplies to treat the virus. That includes $10 million for ventilators, $8.5 million for masks, $500,000 for isolation gowns and $100,000 for hand sanitizer.

There’s another $3 million to purchase equipment and other supplies needed to process COVID-19 tests, both in the state’s own health laboratory and private labs.

The governor also is making $5.8 million directly available to counties and $1.2 million to tribes for local preparedness and response.

Cash is also going out to two organizations to help them expand child care for parents working in essential services, with $2.4 million to the YMCA and $1.1 million to Boys and Girls Clubs.

And the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs will get $1.8 million for expenses related to activation of the Arizona National Guard and to run the State Emergency Operations Center.

That still leaves $35.1 million because the state also got another $11.7 million in federal dollars from the Corona Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act signed last month by President Trump.

Spending by the governor has been slower in spending a separate $50 million lawmakers allocated as part of the budget deal.

That budget provision does have a few strings attached to it. Lawmakers said the cash may only be used for housing assistance, homeless services, economic assistance to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

As of the most recent JLBC report, Ducey provided $5 million in assistance to homeless shelters, specifically for temporary isolation and quarantine housing, along with supplies and services, to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19.

The governor also provided $1 million in direct assistance to food banks.

Another $500,000 is for the already existing “Double Up Food Bucks Program.”

This allows individuals who get food stamps to get a $1 match from the state for every dollar they spend on fruits and vegetables grown in Arizona. The plan calls for the private sector to also contribute $500,000.

One change due to the virus is that the $20-a-day limit has been removed through the end of the month.

There also is $250,000 for the Arizona Produce Purchasing Program. This provides individuals in need with fresh produce, dairy and protein items from local producers through a partnership between the Arizona Food Bank Network, the Department of Economic Security and the Department of Agriculture.

That still leaves more than $43.2 million to be used at the governor’s discretion on eligible expenditures.

Separately Ducey took $5 million from the state Housing Trust Fund for a rental eviction assistance program.

Aid is available to households whose primary residence is a rental unit in Arizona and who have seen a reduction in income caused by COVID-19. There also are income restrictions, with recipients having to earn less than the median income, adjusted for family size, in the county where they live.




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