Controlling the spread of the coronavirus and rebuilding our economy will take a monumental effort by all levels of government. As Congress debates the next stimulus relief package, we come together to demand that legislation be driven not by ideology or party lines, but by the needs of our communities. That includes providing stimulus relief to our state and local governments who are on the frontlines of this pandemic.
The toll the coronavirus is having on America’s cities and states is unprecedented. Here in Colorado, we are looking at a possible $3 billion shortfall at the state government level while our proud city of Aurora is facing an estimated $25 million budget cut.
These aren’t just statistics: this funding is necessary to rebuild our roads and maintain our parks, pay the salaries of our teachers and first responders, and provide critical resources for our students and health departments. Already, our city has been forced to furlough 576 employees who do the essential work of serving our community. Without further funding from Congress, Aurora and cities across the U.S. will be forced to cut even more critical services and employees.
Our economy is in freefall, but this isn’t an economic crisis in a vacuum. It is brought on by a public health crisis unlike any we have seen in over a hundred years. Maybe it is easy to assume that if we fund our hospitals and if we support our small businesses, we’ll see things return to normal. But this pandemic is more complex than that. A return to normal will require a multi-faceted public health and economic response at all levels of government.
Consider the role of the Tri-County Health Department, the public health department covering Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas counties. Throughout this crisis, Tri-County has kept the public informed about the dangers of COVID-19, surveilled positive cases in all three counties, and provided crucial guidance to our community with respect to social distancing, implementation of stay-at-home orders, and best practices. Their work has saved countless lives, but now their funding is on the line.
The coronavirus pandemic is the most pressing issue facing Aurora. And Brighton. And Greenwood Village. And every city and state across the country. Withholding funds from America’s cities and states won’t open our economy faster, nor will it help us beat the virus. That’s why we’re joining together to call on Congress to include economic stimulus for our cities and towns in the next round of funding. Our cities can’t wait any longer. The road to recovery is long and it won’t be easy, but it will require a whole of government response. From the Aurora City Council Chambers on Alameda Parkway to the Small Business Committee room in Washington D.C., it’s time we work together to get the job done.
Jason Crow is a Democrat who represents Colorado’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. Congress. Mike Coffman is a Republican who is the mayor of Aurora and represented the 6th Congressional District from 2009 to 2019.