WASHINGTON – The U.S. House today passed the HEROES Act, the potential next phase of relief for the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill includes two separate, equal funds for counties and cities and provides $187.5 billion in vital relief to counties to address both lost revenue and increased expenditures as the result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) released the following statement. NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase said:
“We applaud the House passage of the HEROES Act, which provides much-needed relief to local governments in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. Counties are on the front lines of this pandemic, with vast public health, safety and economic recovery responsibilities. This bill is a significant step in addressing the urgent needs of our nation’s county governments as we continue to provide essential services to more than 300 million residents.
“This health crisis is having unprecedented fiscal effects on America’s local governments, as our costs skyrocket and our revenues plummet. We found that the COVID-19 pandemic could impact county budgets by at least $144 billion, not including drops in property tax revenues or future cuts in state aid to counties, both major sources of county revenues. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data also shows over 800,000 local government jobs were lost in the month of April alone. These job losses could lead to service reductions in public health and safety, business support and overall community services.
“As counties continue to respond to the pandemic, we focus on public health and economic recovery over politics. We are committed to working in a bipartisan fashion to secure direct, flexible and equitable funding for counties of all sizes, with the shared goal of keeping our residents healthy and our communities safe and vibrant.
“We thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey and all supportive members of Congress for their commitment to local governments.
“We call for strong bipartisan support and encourage lawmakers in both parties to work together to award additional, flexible federal funding and resources for counties of all sizes. We also welcome any and all opportunities to develop reasonable, appropriate guidelines that ensure state and local governments use any federal relief funds for COVID-19 public health and economic recovery activities, including the impact of lost revenues on overall county services.”
Led by 40,000 elected county officials and a workforce of 3.6 million public servants, America’s 3,069 counties support over 1,900 local public health departments, nearly 1,000 public hospitals and critical access clinics, more than 800 long-term care facilities and 750 behavioral health centers.
Additionally, county governments are responsible for emergency operations centers and 911 services, court and jail management, public safety and emergency response, protective services for children, seniors and veterans, and the “last of the first responders” with coroners and medical examiners.
NACo’s We Are Counties campaign features pictures and videos of frontline county workers across the country. Look for #WeAreCounties on social media, and learn more at www.WeAreCounties.org.
NACo’s coronavirus online hub includes county level examples of response efforts, interactive maps and analyses of federal actions. View this resource-rich webpage at www.naco.org/coronavirus.
The National Association of Counties strengthens America’s counties, including nearly 40,000 county elected officials and 3.6 million county employees. Founded in 1935, NACo unites county officials to advocate for county government priorities in federal policymaking; promote exemplary county policies and practices; nurture leadership skills and expand knowledge networks; optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings; and enrich the public’s understanding of county government. www.naco.org