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Western States Pact Urges $1 trillion in Federal Support for States and Cities Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic

Gov. Polis, Democratic legislative leaders join call for support

DENVER – In a letter to Congressional leadership, governors and legislative leaders from five western states requested $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states and local governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to preserve core government services like public health, public safety and public education, and help people get back to work.

“There is no time to waste and we can overcome the widespread economic pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, together. I urge Congress to quickly take up and pass a new stimulus package to provide relief to Colorado’s communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. A robust, flexible federal response to this pandemic is critical to our state’s recovery and our and country as a whole,” said Gov. Polis.

“Without additional flexible aid from the federal government, our state will be forced to make the deepest budget cuts we have ever seen. Congress must help our communities, both big and small, avoid the devastating impacts of these cuts,” said Speaker Becker, D-Boulder. “These cuts would hurt vulnerable populations and further impact our already underfunded schools and institutions of higher education, which still haven’t recovered from the last recession. We are going to prioritize education and critical public health and safety programs as we work to ease how painful this budget may be, but without federal support there’s only so much we can do.”

“States all over the country have been devastated by coronavirus with thousands of lives lost and millions suffering from unemployment. But theses are just the immediate impacts. The longer, more insidious effects of the pandemic will ripple out for years to come, as state infrastructure crumbles from lack of funding,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “We need the Federal Government to step up and provide immediate relief to state and local governments or millions more will suffer as essential services are eroded. Coloradans are deeply resilient people, and I know that with the right help we can get through this together.”

Here is the letter and it is also below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy and Leader Schumer:

It is now clear that COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, and the worst of its economic impact is yet to come. Our states are on the front line against the virus while at the same time leading our states’ recovery. Each of us has seen first-hand how COVID-19 has caused a national recession that we are seeing play out in our states – resulting in a record amount of lost wages and business failures, spiraling unemployment and substantial, unplanned COVID-19-driven costs.

We deeply appreciated the quick financial assistance you provided workers, small business people and those who have been displaced by this crisis. But now, however, our states will be forced to make deep cuts to programs that help those same individuals without similar relief efforts for state and local governments. Even states that began the year in a strong fiscal position are facing staggering deficits amid growing costs of responding to the crisis. With unemployment projected to surpass that of the Great Recession, we are facing unprecedented and ongoing economic challenges.

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.  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.

That’s why we are respectfully, and urgently, requesting $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states and local governments. Though even this amount will not replace the decline in revenue that we forecast, it will make a meaningful difference in our ability to make-up for COVID-19 revenue losses. This aid would preserve core government services like public health, public safety, public education and help people get back to work. It would help our states and cities come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient.

Red and blue states alike all are faced with the same COVID-19 math, as are Democratic and Republican mayors across our states. The moment requires unprecedented partnership from all of us – across every level of government and across party.

We urge you to take swift action to help states and local governments provide core government services for American families.

Sincerely,

Jared Polis
Governor of Colorado

Leroy Garcia
President of the Colorado State Senate

Steve Fenberg
Majority Leader of the Colorado State Senate

KC Becker
Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives

Alec Garnett
Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives

Gavin Newsom
Governor of California

Toni Atkins
President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate

Anthony Rendon
Speaker of the California State Assembly

Marie Waldron
Minority Leader of the California State Assembly

Kate Brown
Governor of Oregon

Tina Kotek
Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives

Peter Courtney
President of the Oregon Senate

Steve Sisolak
Governor of Nevada

Nicole Cannizzaro
Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate

Jason Frierson
Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly

Jay Inslee
Governor of Washington

Andy Billig
Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate

Laurie Jinkins
Speaker of the Washington House of Representatives

cc: Colorado congressional delegation
cc: California congressional delegation
cc: Oregon congressional delegation
cc: Nevada congressional delegation
cc: Washington congressional delegation

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