Democrat New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are calling on the federal government to provide funding to states in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Cuomo said, "It has been over four months since the governors began to lead the coronavirus response in America – through implementing functioning testing programs and by slowing the spread through socially responsible but economically devastating closures of schools and businesses.
"To protect against the global pandemic, states shut down parts of our economies. The resulting consequence has been a catastrophic loss of hundreds of billions of dollars to state budgets. The rapid economic downturn has left no region of the country untouched and has stressed every aspect of state delivery of critical needs and services to its residents. In order to support states in the continuing pandemic response, a $500 billion state stabilization fund must be included in any COVID-19 relief package from the Senate.
"States are ground zero in this fight. We provide the critical services Americans depend on, including public safety, education, health care, food assistance, local aid and transportation. We also employ over 20 million people across the country. And yet, of the $3 trillion in aid from four relief packages, no unrestricted federal support to stabilize state budgets and account for the economic loss states face as a direct result to fight COVID-19 has ever been included.
"Governors, by law, must balance our budgets each year. Given the sharp drop in economic activity as a direct result of the pandemic economic shutdown and the corresponding reduction in tax receipts, state budgets are in tatters. Governors have already made cut budgets and reduced our payrolls by 1.5 million people but, without Senate action, we will need to make steeper cuts and reduce payrolls even more, at precisely the time when these services are needed most.
"As states reopen, we cannot imperil our economic recovery efforts by slashing state programs that pay our teachers, firefighters, health care and frontline workers. To protect our economy and keep the recovery going forward, Congress must provide states with $500 billion in unrestricted assistance and increase the federal medical assistance percentage to 12%.
"We need the Senate's strong support now, so we can fight the virus together and make an economic recovery a reality."