Mayors of Mexia, Harker Heights among dozens urging Congress to provide relief to local governments

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(file/MGN photo)

 
A bipartisan group of over 80 mayors across Texas has penned a letter to the Texas congressional delegation urging Congress to deliver pandemic relief and provide much-needed funding to Texas’s local governments, writing, “it will be impossible to have fiscally stable local governments without flexible fiscal assistance directly allocated from the federal government.”
 
The mayors wrote: “Texas cities are major employers that provide core local government services to tens of millions of Texans. However, we are all mandated to balance our budgets and cannot weather a budget deficit for long. Absent direct and flexible assistance, we fear that we will be forced to cut our workforce and reduce services, exacerbating the economic and public health crises created by this pandemic. Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that local governments have already cut 1 million jobs since the pandemic began, including 56,000 in Texas. Furthermore, without direct and flexible fiscal assistance, those unemployment numbers will only get worse, leading to a drag on economic recovery and hurting efforts to safely reopen our economy.”
 
This week, more than 400 more bipartisan mayors across the nation penned a letter vocally supporting President Biden’s American Rescue Plan – along with a long list of economists and economic organizations urging the benefits of immediate relief including BrookingsMoody’s Analytics, and the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. And a Reuters survey of dozens of economists found that over 90% believed that it would “boost the economy significantly.” The American Rescue Plan has received praise from across the political spectrum – from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable to Senator Sanders and organized labor. And, top economic advisors from the last four presidents: Kevin HassettGene SperlingR. Glenn Hubbard, and Alan Blinder have all said that additional stimulus is needed to rescue the economy.  
 
The letter comes a day after the release of a new Quinnipiac poll showing 68 percent of Americans – including majorities of Americans in every region of the country, in rural, suburban, and urban areas – approve of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which includes this critical funding for state and local governments.
 
See below for the full letter as well as a list of signers:

February 3, 2021
Honorable Members of the Texas Delegation:
 
As Texas combats the third and largest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, we once again write to request that Congress provide direct and flexible fiscal assistance to local governments of all sizes. Texas cities need help to continue to address the pandemic and its economic and social impacts and to weather budget shortfalls that we face through no fault of our own.
 
The budget calamity looming over local governments is real and requires extraordinary measures. As the numbers recently released by Comptroller Hegar illustrate, Texas is not immune from this pain. He reports that December 2020 general fund tax revenues were 9.26% below December 2019’s figures. Please note that these numbers do not include delayed property tax revenue losses, the primary source of local government revenue in Texas. Property taxes are always a lagging economic indicator, and we therefore fear that it will be some time before our revenues rebound from the pandemic. All Texas cities are grappling with this devastating reduction in revenue as a result of an unprecedented pandemic. In addition, we are facing this fiscal crisis at the same time we continue to address major public health and public safety challenges and are incurring significant costs to ramp up vaccination efforts and other pandemic prevention and response activities. Cities have been, and will continue to be, the first responders to our pandemic – assistance cannot come at a more necessary time.
 
Texas cities are major employers that provide core local government services to tens of millions of Texans. However, we are all mandated to balance our budgets and cannot weather a budget deficit for long. Absent direct and flexible assistance, we fear that we will be forced to cut our workforce and reduce services, exacerbating the economic and public health crises created by this pandemic. Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that local governments have already cut 1 million jobs since the pandemic began, including 56,000 in Texas. Furthermore, without direct and flexible fiscal assistance, those unemployment numbers will only get worse, leading to a drag on economic recovery and hurting efforts to safely reopen our economy.
 
There is broad support for direct and flexible fiscal assistance to local governments. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen have endorsed it in testimony to Congress and in other public remarks, arguing that local government budget cuts threaten to stymie economic recovery and hurt core government services later this year, and potentially years following. Closer to home, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan has repeatedly voiced strong support for fiscal assistance to local governments. In addition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many other national organizations have called for fiscal assistance to state and local governments.
 
Texas metropolitan areas account for 93.1% of the Texas economy. Vibrant metropolitan areas with strong, fiscally stable local governments will be key to defeating the pandemic and managing the reopening of the Texas economy. Simply put, it will be impossible to have fiscally stable local governments without flexible fiscal assistance directly allocated from the federal government.
 
Thank you again for your efforts during this unprecedented time and for your attention to our request. We are confident that, working together, our nation can overcome this crisis.
 
Sincerely,
 
Sylvester Turner, Mayor, City of Houston
Ron Nirenberg, Mayor, City of San Antonio
Eric Johnson, Mayor, City of Dallas
Steve Adler, Mayor, City of Austin
Jeff Williams, Mayor, City of Arlington
Oscar Leeser, Mayor, City of El Paso
Harry LaRosiliere, Mayor, City of Plano
Paulette M. Guajardo, Mayor, City of Corpus Christi
Mayor Ron Jensen, City of Grand Prairie
Pete Saenz, Mayor, City of Laredo
Dan Pope, Mayor, City of Lubbock
Rick Stopfer, Mayor, City of Irving
Ginger Nelson, Mayor, City of Amarillo
Paul Johnson, Mayor, City of Jonestown
Jeff Wagner, Mayor, City of Pasadena
James E. Darling, Mayor, City of McAllen
Craig K. Brown, Mayor, City of Galveston
Karen Hunt, Mayor, City of Coppell
Joe Zimmerman, Mayor, City of Sugar Land
Josh Schroder, Mayor, City of Georgetown
Paul Voelker, Mayor, City of Richardson
Stephen L. Santellana, Mayor, City of Wichita Falls
Bill Blackburn, Mayor, City of Kerrville
Brenda Gunter, Mayor, City of San Angelo
Geary Smith, Mayor, City of Mexia
Sara Post Meyer, Mayor, City of Cuero
Dr. Ianthia Fisher, Mayor, City of Crockett
Connie Schroeder, Mayor, City of Bastrop
Sergio Coronado, Mayor, City of Hidalgo
Olan Kelley, Mayor, City of Highland Haven
Antonio Araujo, Mayor, City of San Elizario
Terrill Bartlett, Mayor, City of Canadian
Todd Wright, Mayor, City of Petronila
Tammy Dana-Bashian, Mayor, City of Rowlett
Al Turnage, Mayor, City of Hooks
Tobe Shields, Mayor, City of Spearman
Cissy Gonzalez-Dippel, Mayor, City of Floresville
Lee Urbanovsky, Mayor, City of Buda
Mike Hendricks, Mayor, City of Luling
Willie Leal, Jr., Mayor, City of Poteet
Spencer H. Smith, Mayor, City of Harker Heights
Ricky Swick, Mayor, City of Bremond
Clyde C. Hairston, Mayor, City of Lancaster
Ron Humphrey, Mayor, City of New Boston
Cathy Skurow, Mayor, City of Portland
David Hillock, Mayor, Town of Little Elm
George Galbreath, Mayor, City of Thorndale
Sam R. Fugate, Mayor, City of Kingsville
Caroline Wadzeck, Mayor, City of Dayton
Juan Jose Zamora, Mayor, City of Port Isabel
Arthur L. Miner, Mayor, City of Watauga
Tom Daly, Mayor, City of Selma
Sean Skipworth, Mayor, City of Dickinson
Doyle Robinson, Mayor, City of Panhandle
Leroy Hughes, Mayor, City of San Augustine
Barbra Pinner, Mayor, City of Levelland
David Hoover, City Manager, City of Colorado City
Ricardo Guerra, Mayor, City of San Benito
Roger Shugart, Mayor, City of Brazoria
Jane Hughson, Mayor, City of San Marcos
Gilbert Gomez, Mayor, City of Robstown
Tim Handren, Mayor, City of Boerne
William M. “Bill” Hastings, Mayor, City of Katy
Mary Parr, Mayor, City of Eagle Lake
Pam Gosline, Mayor, City of Vernon
C.R. Evans, Jr., Mayor, City of Overton
Robert Williams, Mayor, City of Jourdanton
Michael Barnhart, Mayor, City of Lake Dallas
Ambrosio Hernandez, Mayor, City of Pharr
Patrick Payton, Mayor, City of Midland
Olan Kelley, Mayor, City of Highland Haven
Mark McFadden, Mayor, City of Olton
Manuel Baeza, Mayor, City of Marfa
Mark L. Stanfill, DVM, Mayor, City of Red Oak
Tom Hesse, Mayor, City of Brownfield
Jim Olk, Mayor, City of Lucas
Vicki Sanson, Mayor, City of Lavon
Joe Carlyle, Mayor, City of Troup
Sheila Petta, Mayor, City of Wilmer
Larry Vernon, Mayor, City of Eastland
Rick Carmona, Mayor, City of Terrell
William L. Parten, Mayor, City of Madisonville
Henry Wilson, Mayor, City of Hurst
Mike Foreman, Mayor, City of Friendswood
Cathy Bennett, Mayor, City of Ivanhoe
Kenneth M. Fulk, Mayor, City of Allen

Source: White House Press Office

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