(Bloomberg) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has blasted Alabama for spending pandemic aid money building prisons, the latest round of his very public campaign criticizing GOP governors in other states.
In a video shared on Twitter, Newsom said Alabama — led by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey — chose to invest in “prisons and punishment” with federal aid, while California spent some of its money on education. Alabama officials approved using about $400 million of its pandemic aid to fund the construction of two men’s prisons that activists have criticized.
Newsom, considered a potential Democratic presidential nominee in 2024, is attacking Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott in Texas. Given that he is expected to win a second term as governor in November, Newsom has instead spent time raising his national profile.
Read more: California’s Newsom escalates GOP jabs to build national profile
Newsom’s tweet prompted Ivey to hit back on Twitter. “Governor, people are making their choice, leaving California in droves and calling ‘red states’ like Alabama home,” she said. “Down here we focus on public safety. And speaking of Covid relief, we’ve invested billions in our students.”
Alabama is eligible for more than $2 billion of the $200 billion in tax breaks earmarked for states under the US White House bailout legislation, according to the Treasury Department. The $400 million allocated to prison projects is one of the state’s top spending priorities for these funds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Alabama also received federal assistance for education through various laws, including the Cares Act in 2020 and the American Rescue Plan in 2021.
“Governor Ivey, as clearly reflected in the tweet, is referring to all aid funds, including everything from the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, both passed under President Trump,” said Gina Maiola, Ivey’s communications director, in one E-mail. “So, as the governor said, Alabama has invested billions of dollars in students, teachers and parents.”
California used more than $1 billion of its $27 billion in state tax credit to create a new state savings account program for children, among other things.
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