NJ governor warns of ‘national disaster’ without federal aid to states
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) warned of a “national disaster” without a boost in federal aid to states to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Murphy warned at a press conference Saturday of “historic” levels of layoffs at the state, county and local levels without billions of extra dollars from the federal government.
“I don’t know how many, but it is big, big numbers,” he said. “We need both direct financial assistance to states from a bill passed by Congress and signed by the president, and we will need bonding flexibility in either case.”
The remarks come amid a fierce partisan battle in Washington over the next coronavirus relief package. Republicans have sought to pass a “clean” bill providing another $250 billion to help small businesses, while Democrats have wanted to add to that $100 billion for hospitals and $150 in state and local funding.
However, Republicans — including President Trump — have opened the door to agree to boosting hospital funding but have been adamantly opposed to providing any additional funds earmarked specifically for states or localities.
Murphy said he had a “concerning” conversation with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) about a lack of “momentum right now in Congress to put a significant amount or any amount of money into direct state aid.”
The National Governors Association (NGA) has called on Washington to allocate $500 billion for states as officials scramble for personal protective equipment and other tools to beat back the virus’s spread.
“To stabilize state budgets and to make sure states have the resources to battle the virus and provide the services the American people rely on, Congress must provide immediate fiscal assistance directly to all states,” the NGA wrote in a letter. “Congress must appropriate an additional $500 billion specifically for all states and territories to meet the states’ budgetary shortfalls that have resulted from this unprecedented public health crisis.”
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