The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act, the potential next phase of relief for the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes two separate, equal funds for counties and cities and provides $187.5 billion in vital relief to counties to address both lost revenue and increased expenditures as the result of the coronavirus pandemic.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the bill faces an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he does not intend to bring the bill up for consideration in the upper chamber.
Counties are making significant financial investments to address immediate public health and safety needs. At the same time, counties are experiencing massive and unprecedented declines in revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The combined effect of these changes will likely undermine county revenue structures and support for education, public safety, roadway maintenance, and other essential services.
We applaud the House passage of the HEROES Act, which provides much-needed relief to local governments in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. Counties are on the front lines of this pandemic, with vast public health, safety and economic recovery responsibilities. This bill is a significant step in addressing the urgent needs of our nation’s county governments as we continue to provide essential services to more than 300 million residents.
This health crisis is having unprecedented fiscal effects on America’s local governments, as our costs skyrocket and our revenues plummet. We found that the COVID-19 pandemic could impact county budgets by at least $144 billion, not including drops in property tax revenues or future cuts in state aid to counties, both major sources of county revenues. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data also shows over 800,000 local government jobs were lost in the month of April alone. These job losses could lead to service reductions in public health and safety, business support and overall community services.
As counties continue to respond to the pandemic, we focus on public health and economic recovery over politics. We are committed to working in a bipartisan fashion to secure direct, flexible and equitable funding for counties of all sizes, with the shared goal of keeping our residents healthy and our communities safe and vibrant.
We thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey and all supportive members of Congress for their commitment to local governments.
We call for strong bipartisan support and encourage lawmakers in both parties to work together to award additional, flexible federal funding and resources for counties of all sizes. We also welcome any and all opportunities to develop reasonable, appropriate guidelines that ensure state and local governments use any federal relief funds for COVID-19 public health and economic recovery activities, including the impact of lost revenues on overall county services.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.