Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), today joined Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen, and President of the Association of Washington Cities and Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, to discuss the urgent need for Congress to allocate critical state, local and Tribal funding in the next COVID-19 relief package. During the video press conference, Senator Murray and the mayors called for additional federal assistance for state and local governments in the next COVID-19 package to prevent impending cuts to vital social services, such as emergency response and small businesses support programs, and lay-offs for public workers.
“I do know the incredible struggles we’ve all dealt with as the first state to face this virus, and our state and local officials have done a tremendous job working to keep our families and communities safe and healthy and secure. But there’s only so much they can do as cases and unemployment claims have climbed, and revenues have dried up,” Senator Murray said. “Meanwhile, all of us are relying on the people that our state and local governments employ—whether it’s our health care workers, our teachers, EMS, transportation workers, so many people who we rely on to help keep this virus at bay and protect public health.”
The mayors spoke to the specific challenges that they’re working to address, such as retaining qualified staff, acquiring PPE and remote work resources, and maintaining vital social services, as their city revenues have been significantly reduced as a result of the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Currently, cities and towns across Washington are looking at losing nearly a third of their usual revenue this year due to COVID-19, and as of May, 53,000 public sector employees in Washington state had already been laid off since the beginning of the pandemic. The mayors also emphasized that while funding for state and local governments in the CARES Act was helpful, additional relief—with increased flexibility regarding how it can be used—is needed to allow local governments to serve their communities during this pandemic.
Senator Murray has been working to secure additional funding for state and local governments in Congress’ next relief package to provide communities in Washington state and nationwide the assistance and support necessary to navigate the on-going pandemic. Senator Murray has pushed for the Senate to take up the HEROES Act, which House Democrats passed in May and which includes nearly $1 trillion in flexible funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments. Additionally, in April Senator Murray helped introduce the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, which would provide $250 million in stabilization funds to cities and counties with populations under 500,000 to help them respond to the pandemic.