PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey quietly tapped $95 million in federal coronavirus relief money in November to boost pay for state troopers, prison guards and essential workers in several other state agencies.
The Republican governor’s office is giving 20% pay boosts to the state’s corrections officers, 15% to state troopers and 10% to workers at the child safety, economic security, juvenile corrections, transportation and health services departments.
Using the money to provide premium pay for essential workers is allowed under the virus relief law signed by President Joe Biden last March.
Governments can boost pay by up to $13 per hour and the maximum per employee amount is $25,000. Nearly half the state's 35,000 workers will get the pay through June.
The Biden administration is threatening to recoup COVID-19 relief funds sent to Arizona over state provisions it says discourage families and school districts from following federal guidance recommending face coverings in schools.
At issue are two state programs that are meant to help schools and students but that direct funding away from jurisdictions with mask requirements.
The Treasury Department warned in a Friday letter that Arizona has 60 days to remove the anti-masking provisions before the federal government moves to recover the relief money.
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