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RALEIGH, NC — Yesterday afternoon, Cal Cunningham hosted a virtual press call with Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, State Senator Gladys Robinson, and State Representative Ashton Clemmons on the urgent need for federal relief as cities and towns face looming budget shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the event, Cal said: “Here we are in July and we still haven’t passed another response package, meanwhile the Senate packed up for a two-week recess. That’s unacceptable. Senator Tillis ought to have called on Mitch McConnell to stay in session and get the job done. But he didn’t, once again following McConnell’s orders. As cases continue to rise, local governments are being stretched thin trying to provide support, and state and local governments need assistance now more than ever.”
The leaders spoke with Cal about the challenges Guilford County and other communities across the state are facing because of revenue losses, forcing them to make tough decisions about the budget.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan expressed how difficult it was to pass a budget without laying off workers: “As we’re looking at how we balanced our budget and trying to hold on to every one of our full-time benefited employees, we need help from the federal government…We are still wondering about what we’re going to do about that very direct revenue shortfall…In order for us to give help, we need help. So we need the federal government to help us.”
Through her work in the state legislature, Sen. Robinson has seen the gaps that still need to be filled in order for cities and towns to combat the virus and support their community: “We’ve written a letter to the U.S. Senate to say we need this stimulus money to go directly to cities. Our municipalities need direct allocation so that we don’t suffer – in the cities – this kind of problem again.”
Without this federal aid, local cities and towns will not be able to provide necessary public services and keep critical workers on the payroll. The Wall Street journal reported this week that since March, 1.5 million government jobs had been lost, most of which were in education.
As a parent of elementary school children, a career educator, and current state representative co-chairing the COVID-19 education workgroup, Rep. Clemmons made clear that additional relief is needed to reopen schools safely. “I know that we need our children to be in school as much as safely possible for the educators and families and children of our state, but we can’t do that unless we are willing to commit the financial resources for them to be able to do it safely…Until we do that, demanding that schools open is irresponsible.”
The accounts from local leaders during the call painted a very clear picture — Thom Tillis’ inaction to pass another relief bill is inexcusable.