Delgado Op-Ed: Local Governments Provide Essential Services. They Need Help.
Wanted to be sure you had seen U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19)’s op-ed in the Times-Union on the urgent need for state and local funding in future coronavirus relief legislation. The House-passed Heroes Act includes Rep. Delgado’s bipartisan Direct Support for Communities Act, which would ensure every single community, regardless of size, could qualify for federal coronavirus relief. To read the piece in full, click here or see below:
By Rep. Antonio Delgado
August 2, 2020
There comes a time when politics as usual truly needs to be put aside — when all the partisan bickering needs to take a back seat to meeting the needs of the American people. One would hope such a time would be in the middle of a pandemic that has taken more than 150,000 lives and left more than 40 million Americans unemployed as we struggle through a historic economic collapse.
For months, our communities have put our lives on pause. While Americans retreated indoors and worked and studied at home, our essential workers have kept our communities running. Our state and local governments met the moment — providing critical services, from keeping buses and ambulances operating to setting up testing sites to facilitating mental health services to educating our young people. When our communities needed it most, our local governments answered the call.
Meanwhile, these same state and local governments have budgets that are hemorrhaging due to the devastating affect COVID-19 has had on local commerce and the corresponding tax revenue used by these entities to fund the critical services they provide.
That's why the House passed the Heroes Act, which directs nearly $1 trillion in funding to state and local governments and includes my bipartisan Direct Support for Communities Act — legislation that would ensure every single community, regardless of size, is able to qualify for federal coronavirus relief funding. I've communicated with local elected officials here at home across the political spectrum, and all agree — Democrats and Republicans — that the funding for state and local governments set forth in the Heroes Act is absolutely essential.
As Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort and I recently discussed, with the rise of suicide cases, drug overdoses and domestic violence incidents comes the increased need to provide human services at the local level. Yet these are the very services facing the potential of significant cuts in the absence of federal relief.
Tragically, here we are, over a month after the passage of the Heroes Act, and the initial proposal for state and local government funding put forth by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate amounts to zero dollars — not a single cent. Whatever one thinks of the trillion-dollar price tag put forth in the Heroes Act, at least it acknowledges the pain our communities are being forced to endure and the need to provide meaningful relief. To the contrary, a counterproposal of zero dollars is blatantly dismissive of the harsh reality so many folks are facing across the country.
It all makes you wonder how disconnected from the realities of everyday American life certain folks in Washington, D.C. must be to comport themselves in this fashion. Is it really a mystery why so many Americans have stopped believing that our system of government is truly for the people and by the people? From where I sit, it is profoundly revealing that in a situation this economically dire, this abnormal, special interests remain at work and continue to undermine the will of the people.
We must be better than this. If not now, then when?
Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, represents New York's 19th Congressional District.