FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon has released a data bulletin detailing the allocation of more than $1.5 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding by the Beshear administration.
Much of the money has gone to city and county governments, the unemployment insurance trust fund and COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, according to the bulletin.
But the greatest expenditure, with more than $420 million committed, falls under a category called Qualified State Government Expenditures, Harmon said.
"It's a pretty broad category so it kind of created a few more questions that you would have," Harmon said. "We asked for a little more clarification from the budget director and they sent a little additional breakdown of that."
The category includes SEEK funding, as well as state agency reimbursements and remote working equipment, according to the auditor's report.
In a statement, State Budget Director John Hicks said, "The administration has been fully transparent about how each dollar of the federal coronavirus relief fund has been spent."
Of the funds detailed in Harmon's report, more than $327 million has been committed for city and county governments with the Lexington-Fayette County Urban County Government receiving $27 million.
More than $215 million has been committed for PPE, COVID testing, contact tracing, and public awareness. More than $203 million has been committed for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
"We try to distill it down just in a more usable format so that the average citizen can see how their tax dollars are being spent," Harmon said.
While this report is not an audit, Harmon said his office would begin an audit on all 2021 expenditures after the fiscal year ends on June 30.
Full Statement from Budget Director John Hicks:
"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."