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Oregon, Washington among western states requesting $1 trillion in COVID-19 relief funding

The money would help the states avoid massive cuts to services such as public health, public safety and education.
Credit: Mark Wilson
The sky lights up as the sun rises behind the U.S. Capitol on March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Leaders from Oregon, Washington and three other western states sent a letter to congressional leaders Monday asking for $1 trillion in relief funding for state and local governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter from the Western States Pact was signed by the governors and legislative leaders from Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Colorado.

The $1 trillion would help the states avoid massive cuts to services such as public health, public safety and education.

“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,” the letter said.

$1 trillion will not replace the decline in revenue that the five states forecast, the letter said, but it will “make a meaningful difference” in making up for revenue losses during the pandemic.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Monday released a dire projection for Oregon, estimating the state is seeing a $3 billion revenue shortfall this fiscal year due to COVID-19.

RELATED: Gov. Brown estimates Oregon is seeing $3 billion shortfall amid pandemic

Read the full letter from the Western States Pact 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,

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

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

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

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