April 13, 2020
100+ Local and State Elected Officials Call on Congress and Federal Reserve for Financial Relief to All Cities, States, and Territories
“In this critical moment, the federal government’s unique constitutional power of the purse is essential for ensuring our communities are able to survive and thrive.”
NATIONWIDE — State and local leaders are calling on the Fed to provide universal, equitable relief to state and local governments. In a letter signed by over 100 elected officials, the Local Bailout For the Many outlines seven relief measures that municipalities need. Among their top demands is ensuring the next relief bill includes the Emergency Relief for State, Territorial and Local Governments Act introduced by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) last month, which would mandate Federal Reserve banks to provide relief for the secondary market and purchase new state and municipal debt issuance.
“I saw the bills that Congresswoman Tlaib proposed, for the Treasury to mint trillion-dollar coins and to provide aid to cities and states, and I thought, we need that, we can’t do this alone,” said Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez of Chicago.
The letter — started by Local Progress members Ald. Rodriguez-Sanchez and her colleagues Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and Byron Sigcho-Lopez — has backing from mayors and vice mayors, state legislators, county commissioners, city council members, and local board members from across the country who are facing enormous challenges in safeguarding their communities in the wake of COVID-19.
“In this critical moment, the federal government’s unique constitutional power of the purse is essential for ensuring our communities are able to survive and thrive,” said Sarah Johnson, Director of Local Progress. “The Federal Reserve’s current facility is overly restrictive, does not go far enough, and woefully excludes all territories – including Puerto Rico! How will we ever recover if we do not provide universal relief to our localities? This proposal will give local elected officials the much-needed tools to invest further in our recovery.”
The wide swath of signatories highlights the leadership local officials continue to display in this moment, especially as many cities are being left out of the federal stimulus response.
“Our city does not qualify for direct funding under the CARES Act because we’re a population of fewer than 500,000 people. We need to be able to act quickly and independently in order to provide our communities with the immediate relief and long-term recovery they need,” said Annie Rice, Alderwoman of the 8th Ward in St. Louis, Missouri. “The needs of our city can’t be dependent solely on our governor and we need to be able to act swiftly and decisively on our own.”
“The current stimulus bill provides no funding for our community or even the hope of recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic. Our main source of revenue, sales tax, has been decimated in the short term, and will continue to be impacted for the foreseeable future,” said Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells. “Local government is on the frontlines of keeping our communities safe, and we need to be supported, not thwarted. Without meaningful financial relief, our communities will suffer greater harms for longer periods.”
The campaign has also launched an online resource that details its proposal, highlighting the unique role local and state municipalities have on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.