Washington, DC—Today, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) held a video discussion with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) about the growing fiscal challenge the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on cities. A bipartisan delegation of five mayors from across the country participated in the conversation with Chairman Neal to share their insights and highlight ways Congress can support their recovery efforts.
The USCM has called on Congress to provide emergency aid to states and cities of all sizes. As they work to coordinate local pandemic responses, nearly all cities are facing immediate and painful budget shortfalls, triggering potential layoffs, furloughs, and cuts to public safety programs. Below are some highlights from the conversation.
“Mayors must both try to lead their community through difficult and sometimes tragic times, while also making sure there are sufficient resources to do the basic business of local government – picking up the trash, responding to medical emergencies and keeping the economy moving,” said Dayton, OH Mayor and USCM Second Vice President Nan Whaley. “Cities like ours are on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, but we simply can’t do it alone. We need federal support both to deal with the current crisis and to make sure we can recover from it.”
“Simply put, demand and need for core local government services has increased significantly at the same time we are all projecting unprecedented levels of revenue loss. Cities need real money – direct assistance – to ensure that we can continue to address this crisis, provide basic services, and avoid layoffs and service cuts that exacerbate the economic impact of the virus,” said Columbia, SC Mayor and USCM Immediate Past President Steve Benjamin.
“This pandemic is not a situation that’s effecting red or blue cities, it is a red, white and blue issue affecting all of America,” said Arlington, TX Mayor Jeff Williams. “Being able to have funds that help us to recover quickly to supplement this revenue loss that we’ve had is critical.”
“Disinvestment from Washington will come at a cost not simply to our firefighters, police and other uniformed workers, not only to the services we provide to the people that live in our cities, but to the economies of the regions of America that built America,” said Pittsburgh, PA Mayor Bill Peduto.
“Like all my fellow mayors, our first priority has been to come to terms with the public health emergency and to do whatever needs to be done to safeguard the wellbeing and health of our residents,” said Santa Fe, NM Mayor, Alan Webber. “But we have to continue to operate at the local level – providing services and employing people who are our residents.”
“As Congress works on the next response legislation, we want to be sure we can help you shore up the economic health of your cities. I know residents are relying on you for crucial services and you are facing decisions no mayor wants to have to make ever, let alone during a public health emergency,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).
Mayors joining the discussion included Dayton, OH Mayor and USCM Second Vice President Nan Whaley; Columbia, SC Mayor and USCM Immediate Past President Steve Benjamin; Arlington, TX Mayor Jeff Williams; Pittsburgh, PA Mayor Bill Peduto; and Santa Fe, NM Mayor Alan Webber.
To view the full discussion, please click here.