(Bloomberg) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom blasted Alabama for spending pandemic-relief aid building prisons, the latest round in his very public campaign criticizing GOP governors in other states.
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In a video shared on Twitter, Newsom said Alabama -- led by Republican Governor Kay Ivey -- chose to invest in “prisons and punishment” with federal aid while California spent some of its money on education. Alabama officials approved the use of about $400 million of its pandemic relief aid to finance the construction of two men’s prisons, which activists have criticized.
Newsom, who is considered a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2024, has been attacking Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott in Texas. Given that he’s expected to easily win a second term as governor in November, Newsom instead has spent time boosting his national profile.
Read more: California’s Newsom Escalates GOP Jabs to Build National Profile
Newsom’s tweet led Ivey to strike back on Twitter. “Governor, folks are making their choice, leaving California in droves and calling ‘red states’ like Alabama home,” she said. “Down here, we’re focused on public safety. And if we’re talking covid relief, we invested billions in our students.”
Alabama is eligible for more than $2 billion of the $200 billion of fiscal recovery aid that was set aside for US states as part of the White House’s American Rescue Plan legislation, according to the Treasury Department. The $400 million that was allocated toward prison projects is one of the state’s biggest spending priorities for that set of funds so far, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Alabama also received federal aid for education through different legislation, including the Cares Act in 2020 and the American Rescue Plan in 2021.
“Governor Ivey, as clearly stated in the tweet, is referring to all covid relief money, including anything from the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act both passed under President Trump,” Ivey’s communications director Gina Maiola said in an email. “So, again, as the governor stated, Alabama invested billions of dollars into students, teachers and parents.”
California used more than $1 billion of its $27 billion of state fiscal-recovery aid to create a new child savings account program in the state, among other uses.
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