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Strickland Leads 48 Members in Urging Additional COVID Relief for Struggling Cities, States, Local & Tribal Governments

February 10, 2021

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) released the following statement after leading 48 of her colleagues in sending a letter urging House leadership to include $350 billion in the budget reconciliation package for state, local, and tribal governments. In order to stabilize the economy and prevent further harm, we must provide support to our state and local governments who are on the frontlines of this crisis, providing crucial services to our communities. The letter was endorsed by: The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); National League of Cities; and the National Association of Counties.(Please find a copy of the letter below and attached.)

“As many families face housing and food insecurity, health concerns, and on top of all of that are struggling to stay afloat, I know firsthand from my experience as Mayor of Tacoma that cities and localities can be the first line of defense. Over the past month, I’ve met with several mayors, city managers, and tribal leaders from Washington’s 10th Congressional District who are on the frontlines of this crisis, providing crucial services to our communities. I said: We need local government officials like you to step up and be unapologetic and unafraid to tell us what you need. And when my community told me what was needed, I listened. State, local and tribal governments are facing dire budgetary shortfalls along with an influx in demand for services - that is why I’m proud to have led my colleagues in requesting $350 billion in relief for cities and localities as Congress continues to pave the way for a landmark coronavirus rescue plan,” said Strickland.

“For the last year, public service workers have fearlessly answered the call, doing everything possible to keep us all safe and healthy,” said Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “But for their courage and sacrifice, too many are being thanked with pink slips. We need robust aid to states, cities, towns and schools, so we can keep our front-line heroes on the job and maintain the vital services – education, transportation, sanitation and more – that are the lifeblood of our communities. This aid is essential to defeating the pandemic, vaccinating our people and breathing life back into the economy. On behalf of all AFSCME members, I’m grateful for the support of Representative Strickland and the other House members leading this charge to fund the front lines.

"The National League of Cities thanks Rep. Strickland for her leadership in fighting for $350 billion in COVID relief aid to state, local and tribal governments," said Clarence E. Anthony, Executive Director and CEO of the National League of Cities. "As a former mayor, Rep. Strickland knows the importance of providing funding to cities, towns, and villages so they will not continue to face such tough economic choices brought on by this pandemic, including layoffs for municipal workers."

“Investing in counties means investing in people. It means investing in the heroes who will ultimately help win the war against COVID-19. Let’s come together as intergovernmental partners to end this devastating pandemic and pursue a brighter and safe future for all our communities,” said Matthew Chase, Executive Director of the National Association of Counties.

Please find the letter text below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, and Whip Clyburn, 

Thank you for your leadership in advancing a relief package that provides both direct and indirect support to our constituents. In order to stabilize the economy and prevent further harm to individuals, we must provide support to our state and local governments. I urge you to include $350 billion in the reconciliation package for state and local governments.

State and local governments are on the front lines, providing direct services to Americans during the pandemic. But state and local revenue from income tax, sales tax, and user fees have declined as Americans have lost their jobs and made fewer purchases in this unreliable economy. At the same time, costs have risen as health care systems are overrun, more residents require support, and services have dried up as the world shifted online. A December survey of municipal officials conducted by the National League of Cities found that 90% of municipal governments have experienced a revenue decrease of 21%, and 76% have experienced an expenditure increase of 17% on average. 

Because states and localities must balance their operating budgets and cannot carry deficits, they enacted cuts to try to bring budgets into alignment. These cuts have had a tangible impact on direct services provided to constituents, hindering their pandemic response. With fewer staff to help administer programs like Community Development Block Grants or Homeless Assistance Grants, localities lack the manpower needed to support residents. Routine city functions, such as waste collection, emergency response, permitting, inspections and licensing, or capital projects, have also suffered under budget cuts.

State and local governments are fixtures in the economy, accounting for 13% of total employment in the United States and require funding to maintain the engine of economic growth. Unfortunately, a Bureau of Labor study from December 2020 found that local governments had shed 32,000 jobs (excluding education); overall government employment is down by 1.3 million jobs since February 2020. Beyond direct employment, the lack of funding also impacts the businesses that contract with state and local government. A National League of Cities survey found that 65% of cities have delayed or canceled infrastructure projects to address revenue losses hurting the local small businesses contracted for that work. 

The CARES Act provided a critical influx of $150 billion for state and local governments to address the pandemic. While this was crucial assistance, we need to look ahead and offset shortfalls faced in 2021 and beyond. The Brookings Institute projected that state and local revenues would decline $167 billion in 2021 and $145 billion in 2022. We know that these losses will be sustained for years to come and need a strong influx of funding now.

We urge you to work in tandem with the appropriate committees of jurisdiction to provide the full $350 billion in relief for state and local governments to truly address the concerns of local leaders nationwide. The funding should be allocated under the structure outlined in the HEROES Act, with specific amounts provided for states, cities, and counties.

Thank you for your attention and consideration of this request. We stand ready to assist as you continue your work on behalf of our constituents.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Strickland

Member of Congress

The letter was also signed by:

Adam Smith, Filemon Vela, Ed Case, Gwen Moore, Derek Kilmer, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Alcee L. Hastings, Andre Carson, Matt Cartwright, Val Demings, Vicente Gonzalez, Tony Cárdenas, Susan Wild, Dina Titus, Earl Blumenauer, Raúl M. Grijalva, Barbara Lee, Marcy Kaptur, Tom O’Halleran, Andy Levin, David Cicilline, Ted W. Lieu, Bill Foster, Madeleine Dean, Ann Kirkpatrick, Diana DeGette, Anthony G. Brown, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jan Schakowsky, Joyce Beatty, Grace F. Napolitano, Chris Pappas, Marie Newman, James P. McGovern, Daniel T. Kildee, Mike Doyle, Sharice L. Davids, Cindy Axne, Rick Larsen, Cori Bush, Nikema Williams, Tom Malinowski, Danny K. Davis, Henry Cuellar, Deborah Ross, Darren Soto, Mike Levin, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland serves as a Member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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For more information, please contact Katrina Martell, Communications Director for Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland, at Katrina.Martell@mail.house.gov