We know how hard this crisis is hitting our cities and counties. They need robust, flexible funding to keep serving Ohioans and avoid cutting jobs and services the public relies on.
Communities across Ohio have stepped up to meet the challenges of this pandemic. They’re continuing to support residents through food banks and meal pick-ups for kids, and keeping emergency services and addiction and domestic violence hotlines running. They’re collecting garbage and keeping utilities turned on, moving resources like libraries and museums online, and trying to balance the need to keep transit running to get essential workers to their jobs.
And they’re doing it all while watching their tax dollars dry up.
We were able to secure $150 billion for state and local governments in the CARES Act. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell left this crucial funding out of the first draft of that bill, but we fought back. I told him this would not get my vote without aid for Ohio communities, and we won. Now, Ohio will receive $4.5 billion to support local governments.
But as this crisis continues to unfold over months and has ripple effects throughout our local economies, we know we will need more.
Last week, Mitch McConnell said he wants to let cities go bankrupt. He seems to think this is only a problem in cities and states led by Democrats, but this virus doesn’t know any political party. Communities all over Ohio are hurting – large and small, urban and suburban and rural, with Democratic and Republican leaders.
We can’t leave Ohio communities behind in the middle of the worst crisis of our lifetime. We won’t stand for it.
That’s why I demanded that the Administration allow states and cities to use federal funding to replace lost revenue. I also sent a letter to Senate leaders of both parties demanding this be a priority in the next stimulus package. Senator Portman and I both wrote to Secretary Mnuchin, demanding the Administration give Ohio communities the flexibility they need.
The president said he supports it, but so far his administration still isn’t allowing mayors to replace lost revenue.
That has to change. Ohio communities know best what their residents need, not Washington politicians.
Sherrod Brown is a U.S. senator, representing Ohio.