New national ads urge Senate to prevent ‘painful cuts to essential public services’

WASHINGTON – With coronavirus cases spiking and budget shortfalls in states and localities deepening, AFSCME today released national ads urging the U.S. Senate to avoid cuts to essential public services across the nation.

The national ad campaign complements state-specific ads making the same demand. These ads are part of AFSCME’s “Fund the Front Lines” campaign, which includes grassroots calls and letters, earned media and previous advertising.

AFSCME has called for at least $1 trillion in federal aid for states, cities, towns and schools to keep essential services running. The House has approved that amount as part of the Heroes Act, but the Senate hasn’t acted yet.

The new national ad – which is airing on CNN, Fox and MSNBC – warns voters that without aid, states, cities and towns will be forced to make massive cuts to essential public services and that there will be more layoffs of teachers, nurses and other essential public service workers who are needed to beat the pandemic and reopen the economy. AFSCME is also running targeted ads in AlaskaArizonaColorado, GeorgiaIowaKentuckyMaineMissouri and North Carolina.

“After months of delay, the Senate must get its act together to beat the virus and safely reopen our economy. Unless the Senate approves $1 trillion in federal aid for America’s states, cities, towns and schools, Americans face massive cuts to essential public services like health care, education, emergency response and sanitation,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said.

“With 1.6 million public service workers laid off – the very people on the front lines of fighting the pandemic – the country faces a worsening pandemic, an even more devastated economy and devastated communities for years to come. And rest assured, voters will know who caused it,” Saunders added.

In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with support from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, led the passage of the Heroes Act, which would extend unemployment insurance and provide aid to states, cities, towns and schools. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to hit the pause button even as the virus raged across the country and weekly unemployment claims topped 1 million.

Since then, state and local elected leaders, both Democratic and Republican alike, have expressed growing urgency for federal relief. The National Governors Association (NGA), led by Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), has repeatedly called for state and local aid. Calls have also come from within Kentucky, including from smaller communities that have been hit by budget shortfalls due to the pandemic. Mayors and community leaders from other hard-hit states like Georgia and North Carolina have also sought federal assistance.

Polling shows that 84% of voters approve of significant federal aid for states and localities to overcome the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus on the economy, as well as to maintain vital public services. Even 77% of voters in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky back $1 trillion in federal aid to states, cities, towns and schools, and overwhelmingly reject his suggestion that states should declare bankruptcy to deal with the budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.