WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is echoing calls from state and local officials to President Trump requesting that he work quickly with Congress to support additional resources for all states and localities to respond to COVID-19 and cover budgetary shortfalls that have resulted from the public health emergency and economic downturn.
“There is a public health and economic crisis devastating our state and Wisconsin needs President Trump to step up and provide real leadership to make our state whole and provide the resources we need to combat this pandemic and save lives,” said Senator Baldwin. “I stand with Governor Evers and local officials in every county, municipality and town in Wisconsin in calling for the President to work with us in Congress to get the job done to make sure Wisconsin receives robust and flexible funding in this next emergency coronavirus package.
Governor Tony Evers, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Wisconsin Counties Association and the Wisconsin Towns Associations have all sent letters to the White House this week calling on the President to take action and provide more funding and resources for state and local officials.
As an important first step, the CARES Act provided $150 billion dollars to states, local governments and tribes on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak to cover new expenses. Additional and flexible funding is needed to respond to COVID-19 and to contend with dramatically reduced state and local revenues that are the direct result of the pandemic’s effects on our economy.
Wisconsin is already experiencing major job losses in the wake of COVID-19, with the unemployment rate estimated at roughly 15% of the state’s workforce as of today. Initial estimates indicate that state revenue losses are likely to exceed $2 billion over the next year, and this significant revenue shortfall will damage the state’s ability to respond to the economic crisis faced by our workers and businesses.
“Without this leadership, the damage to our state economies will be exacerbated by the cuts we know we will be forced to make,” wrote Governors Evers (WI), Whitmer (MI) and Wolf (PA). “We ask you to heed this weekend’s call from the leadership of the National Governors Association, Chair Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Vice Chair New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and support $500 billion in state stabilization funds that will allow for the replacement of lost revenues and with the maximum flexibility possible so the funding can be used beyond those costs directly tied to COVID-19 related expenses.” The governors full letter to the White House is available here.
“With debate surrounding a package that will assist local units of government, we know you understand the critical role Wisconsin counties play in the arena of public health and human services,” wrote Mark O’Connell, executive director of the Wisconsin Counties Association. “Allocating funds to address the ill effects of the pandemic is important. Even more important is ensuring that the funds are delivered to those areas of local government which are most in need and on the front lines of fighting the pandemic.” The Wisconsin Counties Association full letter to the White House is available here.
“We ask that you work with Congress on legislation to provide additional relief with the ability to fill local budget gaps created by COVID-19 related revenue losses,” wrote Jerry Deschane, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. “The pandemic is driving increased costs to provide public services. First responders must be supplied with personal protective equipment. Elections and other essential government services must be reinvented with an eye toward social distancing, requiring added costs for facilities and equipment. Infrastructure maintenance and new construction costs are higher due to the constraints of social distancing. These costs are in addition to local budgets already strained by revenue loss.” The League of Wisconsin Municipalities full letter to the White House is available here.
“I am writing today to implore you to work with Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Pelosi to develop a fourth COVID relief package that addresses the needs of our smaller, rural communities,” wrote Mike Koles, executive director of the Wisconsin Towns Association. “This package should provide for simple, fast, and direct payment to town government to prevent severe cuts to core services, the same services that are necessary to protect citizens and create a foundation for the private sector to succeed.” The Wisconsin Towns Association full letter to the White House is available here.