Governors seek $500 billion in federal aid for states battling coronavirus

Tribune Content Agency

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who chairs the National Governors Association, is seeking $500 billion in aid from Congress to help states facing looming budget shortfalls amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hogan issued a joint statement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who serves as the association’s vice chair, on Saturday, saying the help is badly needed for states that have been “leading the on-the-ground response to the national COVID-19 pandemic.”

“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,” the statement said. “This critical stabilization funding for states must be separate from much needed fiscal stabilization for local government.”

The request was announced just a day after Maryland officials announced potentially dire budget shortfalls, including up to a $2.8 billion revenue loss by the end of June, if the stay-at-home order remains in place that long. If the order extends through May, State Comptroller Peter Franchot said the state could lose about $1.5 billion.

The grim projections led Hogan to announce a state budget freeze, including a statewide hiring freeze and possible cuts elsewhere in the state budget. Hogan said the state will only spend money on coronavirus-related expenses and payroll.

Hogan and Cuomo said the recently passed federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which has provided some relief, does not provide any direct aid to states and territories that are grappling with upcoming budget shortfalls.

They warn if the request is not granted, it will cause adverse economic effects across the country.

“In the absence of unrestricted fiscal support of at least $500 billion from the federal government, states will have to confront the prospect of significant reductions to critically important services all across this country, hampering public health, the economic recovery, and — in turn — our collective effort to get people back to work,” they said.

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