States need federal aid to survive pandemic

To ignore the economic emergency they are in from plummeting state tax revenues, would threaten an already-weakened economy.

By

Opinion

April 28, 2020 - 9:44 AM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says there's no federal money to help states weather plummeting tax revenues. Photo by (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/tNS)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says states with budgets devastated by the pandemic should consider declaring bankruptcy rather than counting on federal help. This view is more than just unfair — it’s a recipe for worsening the economic crisis.

State governments have been on the front lines in the battle to save lives. An earlier federal aid package to states was restricted only to new expenses directly related to the pandemic. To continue that approach ignores the economic emergency caused by plummeting state tax revenues, which threatens to necessitate cuts in crucial state-led areas like education, health and housing. Cuts in those areas would ripple through an already-weakened economy, making recovery that much more difficult.

Yet McConnell, in a series of interviews last week, suggested that rather than have the federal government help keep those states’ budgets afloat, current law should be changed to allow them to declare bankruptcy. This shortsightedness by the top Republican on Capitol Hill is largely driven by partisanship, as indicated by his false claim that federal help would represent a “blue-state bailout.”

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