NACo outlined its top priorities last week in a letter to Congress as Capitol Hill leaders mull a fourth stimulus package to help the country dig out from the mire of the coronavirus pandemic.
Counties across the country are facing economic shortfalls as COVID-19 breaks budgets related to battling the virus. Local governments have projected an unanticipated $23 billion budget impact in the first two weeks of the coronavirus pandemic alone, according to a report out by Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).
“As we work to protect our citizens, local businesses and economies, we are making significant financial investments to address immediate public health and safety needs,” NACo said in its letter to congressional leadership. “At the same time, we are experiencing massive and unprecedented declines in revenue as a result of the economic downturn and are working to quickly reprogram resources and staff to respond to the crisis.”
“The decline in revenue is occurring when the need for county services and functions is skyrocketing for things like child protective services, emergency 911 assistance, law enforcement and emergency management, nutrition assistance programs, assistance for older Americans and affordable housing, all of which are becoming more complicated and costly to maintain.”
A small sampling of those priorities includes a flexible relief fund for counties of all sizes, clear federal guidance on the release of personal protective gear and medical equipment, expanding support for local Medicaid programs, suspending changes to Medicaid financing, increasing resources for county veteran service offices and increasing SNAP benefits. Read the entire letter here.