Negotiations over Washington’s next response to the COVID-19 continue, with no end in sight, as Congressional Leaders meet with the White House bargaining team. Meanwhile, and also with no end in sight, municipalities across the Nation, and all around New Jersey, continue to struggle.
One side believes that all will be well, if only recipients of the Coronavirus Relief Funding (CRF), which was included in the March CARES Act, are given more flexibility. The other side, at least for now, is committed to providing new direct and flexible assistance to all municipalities, regardless of size.
There are big differences between the HEROES Act, which the House passed back in the middle of May, and the HEALS package, which was introduced in the Senate at the beginning of last week. But from our perspective, the biggest difference is in recognizing the scope of the problems facing all local governments, along with the dire prospects for a strong economic recovery, if those problems are ignored.
In the give and take of negotiations, that priority could be lost. Please contact Senators Menendez and Booker and your Representative in the House. They have all supported direct local aid for all municipalities. Thank them for that. But they will all be hearing from different interests. Your contact will keep your municipality’s needs in the forefront of their thinking.
Seventy percent of America’s cities, towns, townships, boroughs, and villages did not receive CARES Act funding. And 100% of New Jersey’s municipalities are among them. Even if that CRF funding is freed from previous limits, and even if some portion of the money that the State and our nine most populous counties received were to be shared among non-recipients, it won’t be nearly enough to help offset crippled local revenue, diminished services, lost jobs and halted infrastructure projects.
Municipalities are essential in responding to the public health crisis. Strong municipalities will be essential in supporting their citizens and businesses, as the crisis continues. And vibrant municipalities will be absolutely essential for a sturdy economic recovery.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x121.