KTAR: Arizona Dems in Congress concerned with Ducey use of COVID relief funds

PHOENIX — Arizona’s five Democrats in Congress sent a letter Thursday to Gov. Doug Ducey with concerns about how the Republican governor has allocated coronavirus relief funding during the pandemic.

Reps. Ruben Gallego, Greg Stanton, Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick and Tom O’Halleran called for transparency on Ducey’s spending of $397 million of Arizona’s allotted $1.86 billion from the CARES Act.

That money was used to offset operational costs at 11 state agencies and caused a budget surplus, moves the Democrats say were not what was intended for the relief money.

The Democrats also asked for transparency on how those funds were allocated since those details haven’t been made public.

“As we fight in Congress to secure further relief for Arizona families, hospitals, schools and small businesses, it is important to ensure that relief funds allocated to our state are being spent transparently, consistent with Congressional intent and in the best interests of Arizonans who are struggling the most,” the letter says.

Schools and housing relief were areas the Congress members said needed additional funding over the operational costs.

The Enrollment Stability Grant, which was supposed to cover schools’ enrollment-based losses up to 98% due to the pandemic, fell short by $247 million.

Arizona has more than $950 million in its rainy day fund heading into fiscal year 2022.

“Concerningly, your administration has cited the state’s surplus, driven by your questionable use of federal relief funds, as justification to leave untouched a $1 billion ‘rainy day fund’ and to pursue FY2022 revenue cuts that will further harm Arizona’s ability to respond and to recover from this pandemic,” the letter says.