The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is devastating for state and local governments. But Mitch McConnell and Thom Tillis’ GOP Senate has refused to prioritize funding to relieve budget shortfalls in communities, putting public services across North Carolina like public safety and education in jeopardy.
Cal Cunningham has expressed concern for North Carolina communities and called for additional direct aid to protect local jobs and spur economic recovery. From first responders to health care workers and teachers, he understands that state and local governments provide critical services and play an integral part in their communities, especially during a pandemic.
Public education in North Carolina has been historically underfunded thanks to politicians like Thom Tillis, who passed corporate tax cuts instead of investing in teachers and students, but if this continues, the country could lose nearly 2 million education jobs over the next three years.
As revenue sources dry up, the pandemic is “hitting cities all across North Carolina straight between the eyes,” and the lack of congressional action is leaving our communities vulnerable at a time of crisis. The News & Observer Editorial Board writes:
“The CARES Act didn’t provide enough care for local governments and the General Assembly is compounding the problem as it debates how much of the federal relief cities and towns should receive. That needs to change.”
Will Thom Tillis stand up to Mitch McConnell and urge him to take swift action to help small towns across North Carolina?
News & Observer: NC cities and towns are facing a money crisis. Will GOP leaders in Congress help?
The Editorial Board – June 11, 2020
- The COVID-19 shutdown has withered local governments’ main revenue sources: sales, property and occupancy taxes. Now local governments face a crisis unless Republican state lawmakers allocate more relief and Congress approves another round of aid.
- “The economic downturn created by the coronavirus pandemic is hitting cities all across North Carolina straight between the eyes,” Paul Meyer, executive director of the N.C . League of Municipalities said in a video posted on Twitter. “We haven’t seen an economic downturn like this in decades upon decades.”
- The revenue disaster was supposed to be offset by the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act. But only towns and counties with populations above 500,000 qualified for direct payments. In North Carolina, that’s a short list – one city, Charlotte, and three counties, Mecklenburg, Wake and Guilford.
- All the rest are waiting for the General Assembly to fully allocate the $3.5 billion it received from the CARES Act. Of that, $150 million has been allocated to help local governments, with another $150 million held in reserve, but federal rules restrict that money to use for direct COVID-19 related expenses. It won’t offset general revenue shortfalls.
- What’s needed is a second wave of federal aid, this time sent directly to local governments regardless of their size. It’s not simply a matter of protecting full municipal services. It’s also important for the recovery of the economy. Government spending in a recession sustains and creates jobs.
- Potential help is taking shape in Congress. The House has passed the HEROES Act, which includes nearly $1 trillion in relief for state and local governments. In the Senate, a bipartisan bill, the State and Municipal Aid for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act would provide $500 billion to states, counties and cities.
- Unfortunately, the House bill is unlikely to get through the Republican-controlled Senate. The Senate measure is being held up by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has suggested that states should consider bankruptcy. He wants to assess the effect of the first wave of relief before approving another.
- The CARES Act didn’t provide enough care for local governments and the General Assembly is compounding the problem as it debates how much of the federal relief cities and towns should receive. That needs to change.