- - Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Kay C. James’ recent piece on federal assistance for states misstates the cause of the dire financial situation facing cities, towns and villages across America (“Do not bailout states for years of fiscal mismanagement,” Web, May 18). Contrary to the author’s assertions, it is the unprecedented, bipartisan shutdown of our nation’s economy that has crunched the budgets of cities of all shapes and sizes, both urban and rural, and of all political stripes.

Cities such as the one I represent are facing a double whammy: mounting expenses related to the pandemic and declining tax revenues. A recently released National League of Cities analysis finds that municipalities across the country are facing more than $360 billion in lost revenue over the next three years due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data shows that Pennsylvania is expected to see the most significant revenue losses for cities, towns and villages in 2020, with a shortfall representing 40.2 percent of revenues. Smaller cities and rural areas will be hit especially hard.

Nationally, one in seven workers is employed by state and local governments, providing the livelihood for millions of American families. Without aid to cities, furloughs and layoffs will get worse. This week, Federal Reserve Chairmain Jerome H. Powell confirmed that layoffs by state and local governments will slow the U.S. economic recovery.

Federal relief is needed to stabilize local government operations, keep workers on the job, facilitate the reopening of America and jump-start the national economic recovery.


Mayor, Altoona, Pa.

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