As Arizona and America are hoping to emerge from the huge setback that COVID-19 brought in various ways, it is clear that economic recovery is tied most of all to reopening of business. Yet Congress has appropriated vast sums of money to help people, including putting cash directly in their pockets. Whether more is borrowed for that purpose is the subject of debate and may depend on how things go over the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, $1.9 billion has been available to Gov. Doug Ducey to release at his discretion. Ducey last week relented after holding onto that money, and Pinal County officials apparently played a role in that.
It is natural for politicians to delay releasing money for different reasons. The scope of the state’s needs is being determined in real time, and there may be unforeseen circumstances. And controlling the purse strings has given the governor and others an asset that they can gain credit for releasing in the future.
Arizona counties and cities, as well as the state itself, are feeling the pinch more as time passes. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors had led the pack in preparing a lawsuit seeking to force release of funds. County Attorney Kent Volkmer compared the battle with the governor to confronting a bully.
Then Ducey last week agreed to release $440 million to cities and counties. Of that, Pinal is to receive about $27 million and cities lesser amounts based on population, including $6.7 million for Casa Grande and about $6 million for Maricopa. Pinal thanked the governor, in effect saying there were no hard feelings, and perhaps his timing was about right.
How fast the economic recovery occurs remains to be seen. As the free market reacts, it is obvious that ways of doing business will change permanently, especially in the area of who needs to be inside a brick-and-mortar office. Public officials also are finding ways to make do, and budgets will be tight for a while. The federal funds clearly will help, but it is certain they can only do so much.