How many angels …?
It must be maddening to be a desperate small-business owner forced to watch the continued wrangling over the state’s disbursement of federal COVID-19 relief as your business slides ever closer to the brink.
Take, for instance, the Dunleavy administration’s attempt to expand the number of small businesses that can receive federal CARES Act funding approved by the Legislature. Now, Juneau resident Eric Forrer has expanded his earlier lawsuit, filed in May, to block Dunleavy from sending out the added relief.
He says only the Legislature can expand the program.
Early on, Gov. Mike Dunleavy came up with a plan to disburse about $900 million of Alaska’s $1.5 billion slice of the CARES Act funding. It was approved by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee through use of the process known as the Revised Program Legislative Process to disburse money.
Forrer challenged that action, saying the Legislature constitutionally cannot surrender its appropriation authority. The RPLP has been in place since the 1970s to allow lawmakers a constitutional way to accept additional funds for already approved budget items that become available after the session concluded.
After much hoo-ha and delay, lawmakers traipsed back to Juneau, went into session and approved the committee’s action.
Now, Dunleavy’s proposed expansion of the legislatively approved program, which would allow businesses that received up to $5,000 in federal aid from two federal programs to also receive AK CARES grants, has run into Forrer’s latest roadblock.
Oh, lawmakers still are arguing which process is correct; arguing over whether the Legislature must get involved; and, arguing, we suppose, about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Meanwhile, many foundering small businesses in Alaska await help. Time is of the essence to their very survival. It is time to put the nonsense behind us and get done what needs to be done.