Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans, LA, warned that city governments’ may lack necessary funds for essential services as a result of decreased tax revenues during shutdowns in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Morial joined Wednesday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Ed Martin.
“Let’s not call this a stimulus package,” said Morial of Congress’s approximately $2 trillion emergency relief bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic. “Let’s call it a relief package because, in effect, what social distancing, quarantining, and the necessary response to a public health emergency and pandemic has been [is] to shut a portion of the economy down to prevent people from going to work and prevent people from going to shop.”
Morial added, “So it’s a rightful role for the government to step in, and if you will, to seek to plug the hole. … The good news is that it appears to be money for individuals. Number one, unemployment benefits [for] those people who through no fault of their own now find themselves unemployed. To me, this is one of the most important elements of the program.”
Morial continued, “Number two, support for small business. But I want to just say, for the record, my concern is how quickly, how easily, and how efficiently that money can be deployed so that small businesses that need a lifeline — literally today or tomorrow or next week — are not going to be in a mountain of SBA red tape trying to get the support that they need.”
“This is a health crisis and there’ll be money for the public health infrastructure gaps that have been exposed with this crisis,” Morial stated. “We need tests. We need hospital beds. We need hospital equipment. We need medical professionals. All those are acute needs. So I think that there’s going to be some opportunity. It remains to be seen what support there is for city and state governments. City governments are going to take a hit. Their tax revenues are going to be down because of the slowdown in economic activity.”
Morial remarked, “[Cities must still] pay police, and fire, and EMS, and 911 operators. The street lights have to work. The garbage has to be picked up. The playgrounds and parks still have to be cleaned. The basic functions of city government do not cease because of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Morial went on, “In fact, there may be greater demand on them, and therefore, this package, I hope, will plug the hole and make municipal governments and state governments whole in connection with what we’ve expressed. So we’ve got to see the final contours of the package. From what I know, there’s some promising elements in it.”
“The government must, as a public policy matter, make us whole,” stated Morial of federal government funding of states and cities.
“We have to advocate for the government to make us whole so that this crisis does not create such an economic downturn that it will take us a generation to recover,” Morial concluded.
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