In Media Call, USCM Renews Appeal for Direct Funding for Cities of All Sizes

Washington, D.C.— Yesterday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) hosted a media conference call urging Congress to provide direct assistance to cities of all sizes in its next coronavirus response package. The call featured mayors from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, and Florida – all states that supported the president in the last election – underscoring that there is no geographic or political boundary to the needs facing cities. Thus far, lawmakers have provided only limited direct funding, and only for the largest 36 American cities. The USCM is calling on Congress to meet the growing needs of American cities and make relief available to cities of all sizes.

The full audio of the call can be found HERE, and below are excerpts of the mayors’ comments.

“American cities are being devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are calling on Congress to act,” said USCM President Mayor Bryan K. Barnett of Rochester Hills, Michigan. “The mayors on this call and mayors everywhere across the country, are leading the local efforts to defeat the virus, and yet, to date, cities for the most part have been almost entirely left behind in Washington’s response.

“I can tell you there is no political affiliation or geographic boundary to define what cities have been affected,” Mayor Barnett continued, “and we all need relief from Washington. It’s not a red state or blue state issue. There is no part of America that has not been significantly impacted by this pandemic. Just as the virus is striking everywhere, the economic collapse is being felt everywhere, and of course, as I said, local resources are being decimated everywhere.”

“No city is immune to this type of pain,” said Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, USCM First Vice President. “And every resident is going to feel its impact if we don’t do something. This is an urgent and real need for our cities. Without immediate, direct, and flexible financial assistance, cities will be forced to take measures that will further inhibit our ability to address this crisis at this time of most need, both from a public health perspective and an economic one. The situation that we’re in today is unsustainable.”

“As a mayor of a city with approximately 140,000 residents, I can personally assure you that the pain we are feeling financially is just as real as that being experienced in New York or Los Angeles,” said Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio, USCM Second Vice President. “Our revenue continues to drop. Our expenses are increasing. And people in Dayton are losing their jobs. There have been a lot of claims about the ability of the American economy to come back quickly. Make no mistake, as the mayor of Dayton, I know the tremendous capacity and ability of our people to recover from disaster. We’ve seen it time and time again in our community just this past year. But this time, we’re going to need urgent financial assistance from Congress. And every city of every size, whether Democratic, Republican or independent, will need the same.”

“Direct targeted funding in cities that can be used for revenue shortfalls is key to maintaining public services that our residents need more pressingly,” said Mayor Jeff Williams of Arlington, Texas. “Our residents need our services more now than ever. Cities can easily map out where the revenue shortfalls are coming from, and definitely it is being caused by this unprecedented loss of sales tax revenue – directly related to the coronavirus. It’s important to emphasize that our cities are the economic engines of our states and our country… When cities – the government closest to the people – isn’t recovering, our economy isn’t recovering. So we are asking that we be recognized and be helped. We need the help so we can bounce back quickly.”

“The city of Miami was thriving prior to this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, Florida. “We ran into a freight train fiscally… This has affected us not too differently from how we’re affected when we get hit with a major natural disaster like a hurricane… I think it’s something that is universal throughout our cities, across the country, and it’s something we feel should garner bipartisan support because this is really not a partisan issue. This is an issue of the compassion for those who have been every single day working to keep our residents safe and making sure that we have the resources to get through this terrible virus as it impacts our cities greatly.”