The state has been telling businesses to just refund tens of thousands of dollars of federal aid in order access the state program. The new changes would allow businesses to keep the money.
It’s this lack of urgency in fixing the program—encapsulated by an administration seemingly caught flat-footed, unable to seize upon its victory in court—that makes the governor’s words so tone deaf.
They’re six weeks into the program with little improvement. So far, only about $11 million of $290 million in grants to small businesses has been approved.
While most of the rest of the Legislature has shut down business during the interim, the House Labor and Commerce, State Affairs and Health and Social Services committees have continued to regularly meet in an effort to provide oversight on the administration’s handling of COVID-19.
Without significant fixes to the state-run relief program, Alaska could find itself returning as much as $200 million to the feds while Alaska businesses are left out in the cold.
Business leaders have argued loans are an unnecessary additional risk for businesses that don’t know when income will return to normal.
Both the Senate and governor’s administration have been closely involved in the formation of the legislation and support the measure. If the House process is anything to go by, the measure could be into effect by this Monday or even sooner.
Thousands of Alaskans are suddenly without work as the economy grinds to a halt.
Legislators hope to hold the first hearing on the bill by the end of the week, but that would require minority Republicans to sign off on the meeting.
Should they stay or should they go?