“We’re in this together.” A phrase we’ve heard and repeated often since the COVID-19 crisis began. And it is certainly true — we are in this together, and will get through this as a community, state, and country — together.
Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not share our view. According to him, that’s not the case when it comes to aid for teachers, law enforcement, firefighters and other public employees supported by state and local governments. Instead, McConnell favors allowing states to declare bankruptcy, even going as far as to say it will “save some cities.”
Refusing aid to state and local governments means refusing to support many of the frontline workers who are keeping our country running during this public health emergency — public health workers, EMS workers, corrections officers, sanitation workers, custodians and so many more.
These workers – many of whom are our neighbors, friends and family — are the real people impacted when we talk about supporting state and local governments. We need to do everything we can to help these workers so they can continue to provide critical services to all of us.
That’s why Congress must act to provide funding and flexibility for state and local governments to respond to the current COVID-19 crisis and address the revenue shortfalls as a result of this pandemic. This funding isn’t a handout; it is about stabilizing city, county and state governments and supporting the millions of families who rely on vital services each and every day.
We are committed to ensuring Congress includes additional relief for state and local governments in the next coronavirus relief package through inclusion of two bills that we’ve introduced.
The Coronavirus Relief for States Act and the Coronavirus Community Relief Act will work hand-in-hand to address both state and local needs and provide necessary funding for our frontline workers.
First, the Coronavirus Relief for States Act will provide $500 billion in flexible funding for states to respond to the current crisis, replace lost revenue and support economic recovery.
The $500 billion amount matches the request from the National Governors Association and has the support of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who has warned of an “unmitigated economic crisis” absent “direct, robust and immediate state and local aid.”
Second, the Coronavirus Community Relief Act will provide $250 billion in stabilization funds directly to local communities, cities and towns that are facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Importantly, it removes a previously included population threshold and separates local and state stabilization funds to allow for smoother disbursement and allocation of monies between city, county and state governments.
This bill is supported by the National League of Cities and countless rural towns and cities across America.
State and local officials are leading the on-the-ground response to this pandemic, making difficult decisions to protect their residents. As we get a handle on the public health aspect of this crisis, we must be prepared to face the economic calamity still ahead of us.
This is not a time to turn our backs on our state and local communities, but instead a time to double down and remember we are all in this — together.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, represents Colorado’s 7th congressional district. U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, represents Colorado’s 2nd congressional district.