FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) – Out of the more than $1.7 billion for Kentucky in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, auditor Mike Harmon says Governor Andy Beshear and the state budget director decided how the brunt of funds would be spent.
“But still, it would have been better if he had called the General Assembly into special session. To call them back in only because they deal with that on a regular basis,” Auditor Harmon said.
Harmon says the largest chunk of the money was allocated under the title of qualified state government expenditures.
“Was large and very broad. We felt like it was important to ask a few more questions,” Harmon said.
They were told by the state budget director it was for things like SEEK formula and payroll.
“Still there’s some more questions. But we felt like it was sufficient enough to release the data bulletin with the information,” Harmon said.
The next largest expenditure was for cities and towns, totaling $327 million, with all but $16 million spent. Louisville received $133 million and Lexington $27 million.
After that, the next largest amount was for the unemployment insurance trust fund at $203 million, then $215 million for PPE, contact tracing, testing and public awareness.
“For me, I thought it was some interesting data on how some money was expended,” Harmon said.
The spreadsheet also listed various other expenditures for such things as long-term care facilities, health departments, restaurant and bar relief assistance, and K-12 internet connectivity.
State Budget Director John Hicks responded to the data bulletin by saying the administration has been fully transparent in how all COVID-19 relief money has been spent. Hicks also says he has testified before lawmakers on the matter and worked with state budget chairs and their staffs.
You can read Hicks’ full statement here:
The administration has been fully transparent about how each dollar of the federal coronavirus relief fund has been spent. I have personally testified on the uses in front of state lawmakers and worked with various budget chairs and their staff, particularly when it comes to state government expenses. The auditor’s report fails to include the extensive testimony and documentation I have provided to the General Assembly. I have provided the auditor’s office with agency-by-agency amounts for the “Qualified Government Expenditures” referenced in the bulletin. The auditor has not requested materials for auditing purposes since the fiscal year 2020 audit. Part of the money has already been audited and the administration worked with lawmakers on the 28 percent portion of the funding for “Qualified Government Expenditures”, and included the impacts of that spending in the fiscal year 2021 budget revisions passed by the General Assembly in the 2021 session. Those impacts are publicly expressed in the budget documents displayed on the Office of State Budget Director’s website.John Hicks