NACo has sent a letter to congressional leadership emphasizing county priorities in coronavirus response efforts and urging direct and flexible funding and resources to counties of all sizes as Congress considers a fourth coronavirus response package.
From the NACo letter:
As Congress considers a fourth COVID-19 response package, we urge you to provide direct and flexible funding and resources to counties of all sizes. 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. 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.
Counties are required to operate with balance budgets, and due to the extremely steep and sudden unforeseen expenses for COVID-19 response efforts, some are already cutting services and laying off employees. In fact, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) just released a report detailing how local governments have projected an unanticipated $23 billion budget impact in the first two weeks of the pandemic alone.
The letter continues by urging the following county priorities be included in a possible 4th response package:
- Include A Relief Fund for Local Governments of All Sizes That Can Be Used to Address the Unique Needs of Local Communities
- Provide Clear Federal Guidance on the Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Essential Medical Equipment
- Expand Federal Support for Local Medicaid Programs
- Implement Moratorium on Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR)
- Address the Unfunded Mandate Included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- Eliminate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Non-Federal Cost Share Currently Required Under the Presidential Disaster Declaration
- Bolster Counties’ Ability to Serve and Protect Our Veterans
- Pause Shot Clocks and Public Comment Periods
- Increase Funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)
- Increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits:
- Restore Advance Refunding Bonds
- Establish Mandatory Funding for Payments In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT)
- Expand Use of Secure Rural Schools (SRS)
- Ensure Broadband is an Option for Everyone
- Repeal T-Band Spectrum Auction to Support Critical Public Safety Communications Networks
- Provide Funding and Flexibility for Elections
- Increase Funding for the 2020 Census
The letter concludes with information about the counties role in transportation and infrastructure systems and additional recommendations should congress pursue an infrastructure response package.
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