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State and local leaders demand ‘immediate action’ on federal aid

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with governors and mayors in the Oval Office to discuss the vital need to pass the American Rescue Plan. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
By Pete Levine ·

In a bipartisan letter to Congress, more than 750 state and local leaders are calling on their representatives to deliver urgent aid to states, cities, towns and schools.

“As elected leaders representing communities across our nation, we are writing to urge you to take immediate action on comprehensive coronavirus relief legislation, including desperately needed funding for states, counties, cities, and schools,” wrote the coalition of state and local leaders.

Their plea for help from the federal government to solve both the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic and to provide the public health resources needed to reverse it echoes the requests of mayors, economists, front-line workers, and countless others.

The letter also says that President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan “will go a long way towards alleviating the significant financial strain COVID-19 has placed on our states, counties, cities, and schools, and the pocketbooks of working families.”

The elected leaders describe the devastation, sacrifice and hardships so many have faced in the past year: front-line workers – nurses, teachers, public service workers, and more – are continuing to keep their communities running as economic assistance has dried up since the CARES Act was passed 10 long months ago. 

“It is a painful irony that while many have rightly called these essential workers heroes, our country has failed to truly respect them with a promise to protect them and pay them throughout the crisis,” the letter notes.

Among the hardships our communities have faced is watching their front-line heroes lose their jobs or be furloughed – some 1.4 million of them, the letter states.

The elected leaders, including state and local officials from red and blue states across the country, describe the crisis unfolding in their communities:

“This means reduced mental health and addiction services, lower emergency response times, higher patient loads for nurses, fewer answered cries for help from domestic violence victims, dirtier streets, overcrowded prisons, and decaying roads and bridges. There have also been cuts to schools, health care, and other core public functions needed to meet the logistical challenges of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine and crush this virus once and for all.”

They warn that unless aid to states, cities, towns and schools is delivered immediately, our country risks the slow job growth we saw after the Great Recession.

“We cannot repeat this same mistake. To beat this virus and ensure an inclusive recovery, we the undersigned call upon you to invest in our states, counties, cities, and schools without delay.”

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