July 23, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and 36 of his Senate colleagues urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to support the funding levels for state and local governments that were included in the HEROES Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives over two months ago, as well as the legislation’s funding flexibility provisions. The HEROES Act included $500 billion for states, $375 billion for local governments and $20 billion each for territories and tribal lands.
“Providing additional funds to state and local governments will ensure that jurisdictions have the financial resources to fund first responders, and the life-saving work done in our public hospitals and by public health departments in communities large and small. Existing funding is not enough for jurisdictions grappling with these extraordinary shortfalls. Governors of both parties may be forced to balance their budgets by cutting education funding for thousands of school districts and slashing funding to support the millions of Americans who reside in nursing homes or receive care in home and community-based settings,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “It is essential that the federal government provide fiscal support for those who are responding directly to and are most affected by this unprecedented health and economic crisis.”
As state and local governments report enormous deficits and anticipated cuts to their budgets, this will invariably affect such services as public schools, social services and health departments, with widespread economic consequences. Local and state governments expect cuts in services to local health departments which employ essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as child welfare workers, social workers, firefighters and more employees. Many county and state governments have been forced to furlough workers due to the pandemic, and without funding, these furloughs could become permanent job losses. Decreased local government spending may lead to a $344 billion decrease in economic output and 4.9 million fewer jobs.
Senator King is an outspoken advocate for federal funding to states and municipalities, which is necessary during the pandemic so that state and local governments can meet the increased needs of their citizens despite falling revenues. In May, he joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act, legislation that would allow the federal relief funds provided to states and local governments in the CARES Act to be used to replace revenue shortfalls resulting from the pandemic. Also in May, he urged top Senate leaders to include “substantial, additional aid” for states in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic impact. He joined the Maine delegation to highlight the financial strain Maine’s state and local governments are experiencing as a direct result of the pandemic. Additionally, Senator King has stressed the importance of state and municipality funding during interviews with national media outlets, and on his social media channels.
The full letter can be read HERE.