March 19, 2020
“Phase 3” coronavirus stimulus bill must include economic relief for state and local governments and shore up public services.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement calling on the House and Senate to move quickly on a stimulus package that would include robust general grant assistance to states and municipalities, so that they can maintain services now and into the immediate future, when they are needed most:
“We are in an unprecedented moment. The COVID-19 outbreak is causing a massive disruption to the economy and threatens to destabilize state and local government finances.
“Over the last decade, public services in public health and other areas have been chronically underfunded, with staffing levels never rebounding to where they were before the Great Recession. The shortsightedness of those austerity measures is now being exposed, and it’s up to the federal government to step in.
“The first two bills passed by Congress have been important initial steps. But we need to think bigger and act more boldly. I am calling on the House and the Senate to move quickly on a stimulus package that would include robust general grant assistance to states and municipalities, so they can maintain services now and into the immediate future, when they are needed most.
“In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act assisted states and localities, primarily through Medicaid and education aid. But this approach won’t be adequate to the current challenge, especially since much of it won’t filter down to local governments. The federal government must provide each state with a grant equal to 7% of combined state and local government own source revenue collected last fiscal year. The estimated investment would be $175 billion.
“This is not a time for half measures. We have to be all in. This is the biggest public health emergency in a century. Public service workers are working around the clock on the front lines, facing overwhelming demand for their help, to protect the health and safety of their communities. We can’t ask them yet again to do more with less. We must make sure they have the resources to do the job. Congress must act now.”