On Senate Floor, Kaine Calls For Financial Relief For Individuals, State And Local Governments
Highlights coronavirus’ impacts on local governments in Abingdon, Fredericksburg, Blacksburg, Staunton, Prince William County
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine gave a floor speech pushing his colleagues to swiftly pass more relief funding for individual Americans and state and local governments to combat the hard-hitting effects of the coronavirus in Virginia and across the country. In the speech, Kaine highlighted examples of Virginia localities that are seeing revenues plummet, which puts their services at risk and could lead to layoffs of first responders, teachers, and other critical personnel. He discussed the impacts on local governments in Abingdon, Fredericksburg, Blacksburg, Staunton, and Prince William County.
Transcript of Speech Excerpts As Prepared for Delivery:
“What are state and local governments seeing? Massive declines in tax revenue. Sales taxes are declining, meals taxes are declining, lodging taxes are declining, income taxes are declining. Jurisdictions are trying to figure out the extent of the likely decline and, though it’s hard to know with certainty, the revenue drops are sizable. In Virginia, the town of Abingdon is predicting a revenue loss of about 15%. The City of Fredericksburg expects a loss of around 10%. The town of Blacksburg—nearly 18%. The list goes on and on. And the Commonwealth of Virginia is expecting a decline in revenue of between $2-3 billion dollars over the next 2 fiscal years. If cities, towns, counties and states lose revenue, what are their options? Since most government costs are personnel, that is what they will be forced to cut—teachers, police officers, firefighters, EMTs. And that is already happening in Virginia, and all around the country. Staunton is proposing furlough days for all city employees including first responders as well canceling plans to fill vacant public safety positions. Prince William County has removed 31 police, fire and sheriff positions from their proposed budget. Abingdon is laying off 13 full time and 64 part-time employees. Every state, city, county and town in this country is having to make the same decisions.”
“There must be a sense of urgency about more aid for the state and local governments—for their employees—the frontline heroes that Americans are relying on during this time of unprecedented crisis. We need to go well beyond the $150 billion that has been provided to state and local governments and we need to give them the same flexibility to use their funding to cover excess expenses or revenue shortfalls that we have provided to businesses.”
As a former mayor and governor, Kaine has been outspoken on the need for more funding to help state and local governments respond to the coronavirus. Last month, Kaine led members of the Virginia delegation in urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to provide Virginia maximum flexibility to use funding from the CARES Act to help address budget shortfalls and prevent harmful budget cuts to services vital to addressing the economic and health crises caused by COVID-19. He also joined colleagues in a letter to call for state, local, and tribal governments to receive dedicated, flexible funding in the next COVID-19 emergency funding package. He also recently joined a letter calling on Secretary Mnuchin to revise initial guidelines so that Virginia and other states can provide essential public services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.