Western states pact urges federal support for states and cities

In a recently letter to congressional leadership, governors and legislative leaders from five western states requested $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states and local governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to preserve core government services like public health, public safety and public education, and help people get back to work.

The letter read, “We urge you to take swift action to help states and local governments provide core government services for American families.”

According to the letter, the COVID-19 pandemic “will be with us for the foreseeable future, and the worst of its economic impact is yet to come. Our states are on the front line against the virus while at the same time leading our states’ recovery. Each of us has seen first-hand how COVID-19 has caused a national recession that we are seeing play out in our states – resulting in a record amount of lost wages and business failures, spiraling unemployment and substantial, unplanned COVID-19-driven costs.”

The letter writers “appreciated the quick financial assistance you provided workers, small business people and those who have been displaced by this crisis,” but now states are “forced to make deep cuts to programs that help those same individuals without similar relief efforts for state and local governments.”

Facing unemployment numbers that will surpass those seen during the Great Recession, that governmental agencies report they are facing “unprecedented and ongoing economic challenges,” and without federal assistance they will be “forced to make impossible decisions — like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders.  And, without additional assistance, the very programs that will help people get back to work – like job training and help for small business owners – will be forced up on the chopping block.”

The letter was signed by Gavin Newsom, Governor of California; Toni Atkins, President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate; Anthony Rendon. Speaker of the California State Assembly; Marie Waldron, Minority Leader of the California State Assembly; Jared Polis, Governor of Colorado; Leroy Garcia, President of the Colorado State Senate; Steve Fenberg, Majority Leader of the Colorado State Senate; KC Becker, Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives; Alec Garnett, Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives; Kate Brown, Governor of Orego; Tina Kotek, Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives; Peter Courtney, President of the Oregon Senate; Steve Sisolak, Governor of Nevada; Nicole Cannizzaro, Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate; Jason Frierson, Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly; Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington; Andy Billig, Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate; and Laurie Jinkins, Speaker of the Washington House of Representatives.