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AFSCME Ads Seeking State, Local Aid Go National

By AFSCME Staff ·

AFSCME launched two ads today urging Congress and President Donald Trump to approve desperately needed state and local aid to keep front-line public service workers on the job to fight the pandemic and reopen the economy.

The ads are part of our union’s “Fund the Front Lines” campaign and will run on cable and digitally.

“Front-line health care workers, corrections officers, home and child care providers, sanitation workers and other public service workers put their lives on the line every day to save ours. America refuses to thank them with pink slips,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “Public service workers and the services they provide are essential to beating this pandemic and opening the economy.”

The ads, titled “Front-Line Fighters” and “Public Service Army,” will begin running in key states and the District of Columbia as senators return to the nation’s capital to debate the next COVID-19 response legislation.

State and local budgets have been decimated by the pandemic, and many have already announced furloughs and layoffs of front-line public service workers – the very people responsible for fighting the virus and reopening our economy. AFSCME members were recently joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in urging Congress to provide robust state and local assistance.

What is State and Local Aid?

According to polling, huge majorities of Americans support federal aid to close state and local budget shortfalls, a key piece of the next COVID-19 response legislation. Without it, states and localities, which are not allowed to run deficits, would have to lay off hundreds of thousands of front-line public service workers.

Taxpayers in large and small communities across America would see services such as health care, emergency response, public safety, education, corrections, home and child care, sanitation, water treatment and other essential services gutted unless Congress and the president act.

“Does anyone’s idea of a reopened America mean permanently overwhelmed hospitals, overcrowded classrooms, trash in the streets and dirty water coming out of the tap?” Saunders asked. “The public service cuts communities made after the Great Recession are one reason we are in the mess we are in today in fighting this pandemic. We must learn the mistakes of austerity and not repeat them.” 

Growing Bipartisan Calls for State and Local Aid

Bipartisan calls for investing in public services are reaching a fevered pitch – from mayors to governors to senators. The National Governors Association (NGA), led by Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), have aggressively called for state and local aid.

In addition, the NGA has joined the bipartisan Council of State Governments, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Counties, National league of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International City/County Management Association – the so-called “Big 7” – in issuing a joint statement. It said that “a full recovery from the crisis is dependent on ‘robust, flexible assistance’ directly to states and local governments of all sizes.”

Moreover, a March letter signed by 21 Republican governors – including Govs. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.), Mike Parson (R-Mo.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Gary Herbert (R-Utah), and Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) – also called for “direct assistance from Congress.” “Injecting states with resources would give governors the ability to respond to the unique needs of each state with the speed and flexibility that is required to respond to this monumental challenge,” they wrote.

And the Ohio Mayors Alliance, a bipartisan group of 26 mayors from the Buckeye State, is just one example of state-specific local officials joining the request for state and local aid from Congress and the president. “[Our] economic recovery will be slower than molasses if Ohio cities have to spend the next five years cutting services and increasing taxes to make up for this sharp drop in revenues,” said Lancaster Mayor David Scheffler, a Republican. “By providing fiscal relief now for state and local governments, we will have a quicker economic recovery when the public health crisis subsides.”

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