Mayor Robert M. Restaino Issues Statement Regarding Congress’ Incomplete Relief Package

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Niagara Falls Mayor Robert M. Restaino.

 

By: Robert M. Restaino

Mayor of Niagara Falls

At long last, Congress has negotiated an economic relief package, nearly six months after the House version was passed, and it terribly misses the mark. While there is no doubt that the families, businesses, schools, and other programs that made it into the relief package are all in need of help, it is impossible to explain why local governments were left out- except if you recognize that it was a callous political act.

As businesses were impacted by the pandemic, resulting in many being forced to close, perhaps permanently, leading to layoffs of workers and families suffering to make ends meet, local governments continued to provide essential services- public safety, public works, and sanitation, to name a few. Local governments were forced to terminate programs for youth and seniors as a result of falling revenues due to the shutdowns caused by the pandemic. Public employees continued as essential workers to keep city-systems working all while suffering the same risks as all frontline workers.

Local governments provided frontline support to their residents and responded to federal and state directives in the management of the health crisis, and to be forgotten as an essential institution in this relief package is outrageous and short-sighted. As cities struggle to make their way out of the pandemic, more cuts to personnel and reductions in services become the only method Congress has given us to avoid tax increases to maintain services- increases that will further impact the working families Congress claims to care about.

While we know that there are those in Congress who understand the plight of local governments, it is unfortunate that the voice for local government was ignored. It is not enough to suggest that this is just “a beginning” or a “first installment” and “The new administration and Congress know they need to do more.” These promises hold out as much hope as the comments over the last six months that “something has to get done.” Ultimately local economies will continue to suffer if local governments continue to be ignored.


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