Republicans and Democrats in Washington are currently negotiating a fourth stimulus measure that will appropriate about $470 billion. These funds would be apportioned in the following way:
- $310 billion to the small business paycheck protection program that ran out of money last week.
- $75 billion for hospitals.
- $60 billion for loans targeted for minority and “lower served areas.”
- $25 billion for Coronavirus testing.
While these are all vital areas that need immediate funding, what is astonishing is, at this time, there is no money in the legislation to help states, cities, or towns to get through these next couple of months.
In other words, the people Trump and his Trump Zone followers want to take care of the Coronavirus, the nation’s governors and mayors, are being forced to mostly financially fend for themselves while virtually taking on all the responsibility for testing and caring for the American People.
The situation is also concerning in Arizona where forecasters estimate that the state may face a deficit over the next two fiscal years of $1.1 billion.
While the state rainy day fund and the initial stimulus aid provided to Arizona in the CARES Act will be very helpful, it is important to learn from history and not repeat the budget-cutting butchery of the Arizona government during the 2008-09 Recession.
Arizona’s elected officials (both Republican and Democrat) should be insisting that aid to state and local governments be included in the current bill being negotiated in the Senate.
They should also be insisting that the Trump Administration get off its Ayn Rand-Laissez-Faire-Fox Island butts and kick the nations-industries into high gear producing the vital testing material and medical equipment necessary to make sure the country can safely reopen the nation’s economy and combat any second or third wave of the Coronavirus.
Finally, they should pay attention to the people’s first proposals coming out of forward-looking organizations like the Children’s Action Alliance (CAA) and the Arizona Center for Economic Progress.
Both organizations, who share the same Phoenix office space and some of the same leaders, have put forth ideas that would help lower and middle-income families weather the economic and medical consequences of the virus and lay a foundation for moving forwards afterward.
The Children’s Action Alliance released their suggestions last week. Among the preferred solutions (links to the full proposals of both organizations are below) are greater federal assistance in:
- More aid to state budgets
- Increased support for childcare.
- Increasing the matching amount for Medicaid.
- Requiring health insurance providers to fully cover Coronavirus treatment in addition to testing.
- Getting information on the Virus to Adult Caregivers.
Earlier in the month, the Arizona Center for Economic Progress published their proposed plans. They included:
- Enhancing paid medical and family leave.
- More monies for food stamps.
- Fully investing in the Housing Trust Fund.
- Student loan adjustments.
- Greater investments in the Indian Nations.
- Helping immigrants.
Some of these suggestions (targeted family leave, more food stamp monies, and student loan adjustments) are being attended to in some form.
More needs to be done in those areas and others of vital need.
As David Lujan, the Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress wrote when he commented on the potential budget deficit:
“During the Great Recession, Arizona’s lawmakers cut public education and health care, swept funds for affordable housing and state parks, and used budget gimmicks like selling off state buildings. Despite over a decade of economic recovery, many of those cuts have still not been restored. Arizona lawmakers must respond to this economic crisis with good stewardship of existing revenue by stopping all new tax cuts and raising new revenue by reversing some of the previous tax cuts so that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. Congress must also act to provide even more fiscal relief to help states balance their budgets.”
“Arizona’s workforce and economy will recover, but how quickly depends on the path lawmakers take for navigating out of this budget shortfall.”
The public servants at the State Capitol should learn from the last economic crisis and not repeat the mistakes made then.
They should be united in demanding more help from Donald Trump in giving financial and medical aid to the states. They should also be telling him to fund the post office too.
They should also devise fiscal solutions that put people first.
The people will be paying attention to what they do.
November 3, 2020, is 197 days away.
Please remember to register/sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) in Arizona or any state that allows early or absentee balloting and mail in your vote by November 3, 2020. Please also remember to get any voter id a state or county office may need to process your ballot.