The federal government moved swiftly to provide much-needed aid to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to individuals and families. Economic hardship has a way of snowballing as the impacts are felt, and the quick response provided critical assistance.
Just as important — and just as significant in the lives of American citizens and small businesses — is the need for cities, counties and states to weather this economic storm. The federal government must step up to support city, county and state governments in the next stimulus bill.
Citizens are counting on local government services as much or more than ever, all while revenue from sales, hotel and fuel taxes are meager.
While local businesses, social services agencies and arts organizations struggle to find footing in this environment, the demands of road construction, utilities, housing, public health and law enforcement are not diminished. The state will be faced with filling gaps as it funds education, transportation, social services and public safety.
Our elected officials in Washington must support the front-line workers who serve our cities and counties by providing aid to cover some of the dramatic losses the pandemic has wrought.
Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol joined other Iowa mayors in sending letters urging Congress to provide dedicated financial aid for Iowa cities and counties in the next coronavirus relief package.
The need is real. Dubuque officials anticipate a $4 million financial loss in this fiscal year and another $12 million loss in the next.
“Without Congress providing a lifeline to recover and restore local economic activity, cities and towns, like Dubuque, will be forced to make cuts to essential services that will have a ripple effect across the public and private sector,” Buol wrote.
U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, and U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, all have expressed support for such necessary funding. A bipartisan coalition in Washington, working with state and local governments, will be the united front necessary to keep our communities safe and strong during this period of dire economic uncertainty.
Citizens depend on local services. We want clean water, good roads, vibrant libraries. We want emergency services to be a quick phone call away. We want our restaurants, long-term-care centers and public facilities to be inspected and scrutinized to ensure safety. We want quality housing to be available to all.
Dubuque and other communities have worked hard to create a hometown that people love. If the federal government hopes to keep our economy moving and keep people employed, supporting local and state governments will go a long way to meet that goal.