State, Local Governments Send Urgent Letter to Senate Calling for Aid

Jerry Ashworth
July 8, 2020 at 11:19:22 ET
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Over the years, we’ve often seen letters submitted to the federal government or Congress that are supported by multiple stakeholder organizations. For example, it’s not uncommon that several different organizations representing research universities and institutions of higher education will send joint letters to the federal government to address concerns about regulations that could hamper funding for colleges and universities. Well, last week, we came across a jointly signed letter that tops them all (or at least the ones we’ve ever come across).

In a June 29 letter, organizations representing state and local governments submitted a letter to Sens. Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressing their concerns about “historic budget shortfalls” that governments are facing as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. They noted that 45 states and thousands of local governments had fiscal years that began July 1, and that “unlike the federal government, these state and local governments must begin their fiscal years on time and with a balanced budget. If the Senate fails to act immediately to support state and local governments, our nation’s recovery from the pandemic-induced recession will suffer and millions of Americans will needlessly be harmed.”

The letter called for “more robust and direct stimulus" for state and local governments to “rebuild the economy and maintain essential services in education, health care, emergency operations, public safety and more.” Fearing job cuts and furloughs that will affect government services, the letter authors explained that “the damage will get far worse without federal assistance,” and that drastic cuts will further delay and cancel infrastructure projects, including transportation projects.

The letter also warned about the effects of reduced state and local government purchase of goods and services, as well as lower governmental employment. “Leaders in Washington have expressed support for flexible fiscal aid to states and localities of all sizes,” the letter adds. “Yet months have gone by and our communities continue to suffer. Americans have a history of standing together in times of crisis and must do so now.”

What got our attention was the number of organizations that took part in sending this letter. Among the major organizations signing the letter were the National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, International City/County Management Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. But that’s not all. In addition, the letter was also co-signed by more than 170 other entities and associations as well!

The need for state and local funding it critical, so we’ll be interested to see what the congressional response to this letter will be.

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