Local, State Governments Need Congress to Grant Additional Relief

Workers across the country are facing unprecedented challenges. Double-digit unemployment with numbers that get worse each week show the dire straits many are facing. Hardworking Americans are looking for answers that right now are not easy to find.

It’s times like these that the public depends on government at all levels. But those bedrock institutions are being threatened by decreasing tax revenues and an increase in spending to provide such things as personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing. Local and state governments need additional funds from the federal government to keep necessary public sector workers working for the people.

blog earlier this week from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that state and local governments could need as much as $1 trillion in federal aid by the end of next year to keep them afloat and serving their constituents.

Additionally, with unemployment forecast to remain quite elevated – even in double digits – by the end of 2021, federal aid should continue so long as economic conditions warrant, and not be set by arbitrary timelines, EPI noted.

The Teamsters have been outspoken advocates for greater monies for state and local governments. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, in a Detroit News column earlier this month, wrote that Congress must ensure state and local governments have the funds they need to pay their employees so they can keep serving their constituents.

More than 200,000 Teamsters work in the public sector. The CARES Act provided considerable state and local aid, but governments need much more assistance. The HEROES Act not only provides those funds, the bill allows states and localities to use those funds to address revenue loss and not just unanticipated COVID-19 related expenses. This flexibility will help states to avoid mass layoffs and furloughs that would worsen the recession, delay recovery, and undercut public health response efforts.

The good news is there are some on Capitol Hill who are anxious to help state and local governments. The House was expected to vote as early as Friday on new stimulus legislation backed by Democrats that would provide necessary dollars to these jurisdictions and their workers so they can continue to serve the public.

But the road ahead for that measure in the Senate is much murkier. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to move forward on additional relief. He is jeopardizing the security of Americans. That is not right nor is it just.

If this nation is to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it need to have governments – federal, state and local – working with a full breathe of resources so hardworking Americans can get the relief they need. We urge lawmakers to get on board.