Budget Shortfalls and Ongoing Economic Woes Due to COVID-19 Forcing Continued Cuts to Local Services and Jobs
Washington, D.C. – As negotiations on the next COVID-19 legislative package drag on, cities across America face the grim reality of continued payroll cuts and reduction, or even elimination, of critical services. Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) sent a letter to President Donald Trump, reiterating a previous request for $250 billion in urgently needed direct, flexible assistance for cities of all sizes.
Led by USCM President Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and the organization’s leadership, USCM Vice President Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and USCM Second Vice President Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez, 290 mayors signed the letter. The signers lead cities large and small. They represent every region of the country. And they are Republican, Democratic and Independent.
To date, just 38 American cities have qualified for any direct aid, and those that did qualify are unable to use those resources to offset pandemic-driven budget shortfalls. Hundreds of cities have already cut jobs and reduced or eliminated services. Without immediate action, this devastating reality will worsen exponentially.
In their letter to Congress, USCM leaders write:
“From the start, cities have been on the front lines of the fight against this disease, coordinating local responses and devoting significant resources to help keep people safe. At the same time, as economies shut down, cities have experienced a precipitous decline in tax revenue – the full impact of which economists expect to grow. Together, these dynamics have decimated city budgets in cities large and small.
“These budget gaps are a direct result of this pandemic, and they are forcing painful decisions, including layoffs, furloughs, and cuts to essential government services when our residents need them the most. The situation is threatening public safety and costing people jobs. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that close to 1.5 million Americans who work in state and local government have entered unemployment since the pandemic began…
“The virus knows no geographic boundaries or party affiliation, and there are budget crises in every state and in cities big and small.
“All of us want to rebound from this pandemic as quickly as possible. But we cannot have a strong recovery without strong cities.”