Western Pact States to Congress: $1 trillion aid needed

Coronavirus

'Red and blue states alike all are faced with the same COVID-19 math'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The governors of Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada — the Western States Pact — sent a letter to Congressional leaders in the House and Senate asking for $1 trillion for state and local governments.

Read the entire letter below

The letter, sent to Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy in the House and Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer in the Senate, pleaded for congressional help for states to help recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

“Without federal support, states and cities will be forced to make impossible decisions – like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders,” the letter reads, in part. “And, without additional assistance, the very programs that will help people get back to work – like job training and help for small business owners – will be forced up on the chopping block.”

So far, the US Congress has talked about another stimulus package specifically for states and local governments but has not acted.

Chris Shortell, Associate Professor of Political Science at Portland State University said the federal government’s budget can operate in the red, but that the same cannot be applied to a state’s budget. The letter sent to Congress said that without federal support, states and cities will be forced to make “impossible decisions.”

“They are very aware of the current divide in Congress about whether to give more money at all — whether to give more money to state and local government, and they’re trying to get ahead of that and speak to that,” said Shortell.

The signators — Kate Brown, Jay Inslee, Gavin Newsom, Steve Sisolak and other elected leaders in each state — noted that all states, regardless of party-in-power politics, “are all faced with the same COVID-19 math.” Financial assistance will help prevent cuts to our most critical public services.

“While money at that level strikes the average person as just absurd levels of money, the reality is, in terms of government expenditures, it’s really not that far out of line with a lot of other expenses that the federal government takes on,” explained Shortell.

“I think the letter is a starting point in negotiations with the federal government,” said Shortell.

“We urge you to take swift action to help states and local governments provide core government services for American families,” the letter concludes.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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