On Dec. 9, the bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators released a framework summary to accompany the recent unveiling of a $908 billion coronavirus aid proposal, aiming to help break the gridlock on the latest COVID-19 negotiations.
The “COVID-19 Emergency Relief Framework” contains many county priorities including increased food assistance and emergency funding for child care, re-upping the Paycheck Protection Program, reviving unemployment benefits and providing $160 billion in aid to state and local governments. The summary also includes new funding for vaccine development, distribution, testing and tracing and the U.S. Postal Service.
On Dec. 8, the White House unveiled its own $916 billion coronavirus proposal that would include additional aid for state and local governments, stimulus checks, scaled back unemployment benefits and liability protections for business, schools and universities.
NACo urges counties to contact their Members of Congress
Although Congress is inching closer to passing a new round of COVID-19 relief, as negotiations continue, aid to state and local governments may be left out of the final bill. Now is the time to make a final push for federal aid to all counties and an extension of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending deadline.
We ask that county leaders urge members of Congress to pass a relief bill that provides direct and flexible aid to counties of all sizes. We must ensure that any package Congress passes recognizes the vast county role in addressing this pandemic. Please call on Congress to pass a package that will honor the work of those on the front lines by providing direct and flexible aid to counties of all sizes. Please reach out to both your Representatives and Senators.
Additional Aid Needed for Counties on the Front Lines
In every way, counties are on the front lines of the nation’s pandemic response. We provide many essential services, especially for our most vulnerable residents, and support small businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities and our economy.
While the CARES Act was an important first step, the federal aid appropriated to state and local governments is simply not enough to support our intergovernmental efforts to preserve the health and safety of our residents. One of the most significant missed opportunities of the CARES Act was that it did not provide funding to offset the drastic revenue shortfalls that county governments are experiencing across the country, nor did it provide any direct relief to local governments with populations under 500,000. In fact, only five percent of the nation’s counties were eligible to receive direct aid.
The flexibility of any federal aid is critical and should be viewed as a cornerstone of our intergovernmental partnership. Counties – both rural and urban – across the country are experiencing detrimental fiscal impacts due to COVID-19. NACo research estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic could have at least a $202 billion budgetary impact on counties of all sizes through fiscal year 2021, including $172 billion in lost revenue and an additional $30 billion in COVID-19 response costs. The effect of steadily increasing infections this fall and winter will only increase that devastating nation-wide fiscal impact.