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.
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.
Governor of California
President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate
Speaker of the California State Assembly
Minority Leader of the California State Assembly
Governor of Colorado
President of the Colorado State Senate
Majority Leader of the Colorado State Senate
Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives
Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives
Governor of Oregon
Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives
President of the Oregon Senate
Governor of Nevada
Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate
Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly
Governor of Washington
Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate
Speaker of the Washington House of Representatives