Today (July 27), the Senate released an initial proposal for the next round of federal coronavirus relief. The framework, the HEALS Act, will kick off negotiations between the Senate, House and Administration on a final relief package, hoping to be passed before Congress departs for August recess. As proposed, the HEALS Act does not include additional funds for state and local governments.
The draft coronavirus relief package released today is out of touch with the grim reality facing communities large and small across the nation, which local leaders of both parties have highlighted over the past several months. As cities, towns and villages everywhere have made clear, there will be no national economic recovery without a clear commitment from the federal government to address the staggering revenue shortfalls and skyrocketing costs that local governments have been forced to incur due to the bipartisan shutdown of our economies and communities.
The proposal ignores not only the warnings of local leaders, but also those of economists who have cautioned lawmakers about the devastating long-term impacts of failing to address local government revenue shortfalls.
Flexibility to use CARES Act funds, while welcome, will not solve the problems facing cities, towns and villages. The CARES Act allocated only a small fraction of what is needed to prevent layoffs, cancellation of job-creating infrastructure projects, and interruption of essential municipal services. The funding made available for local governments thus far is woefully insufficient, particularly as areas across the country continue to experience alarming coronavirus case surges that further strain local resources.