Richmond, Va. – Today Virginia Organizing released a letter signed by over 100 current and former public officials from all areas of Virginia calling for “Relief for All Virginians.” The letter urges the Virginia delegation to Congress to provide funds to state governments and all municipalities in the next relief bill and to address racial disparities in the way assistance has been distributed so far.
To that end, the group is also calling for Congress to increase funding for Medicaid, ensure universal access to health care treatment for the virus, provide protections to essential workers, and increase SNAP benefits.
“Public officials all over the Commonwealth have signed Virginia Organizing’s letter to our Congressional delegation because the need in our communities is so clear and urgent,” Ladelle McWhorter, chairperson of Virginia Organizing’s statewide governing board, said. “Virginians need secure housing, food security, health care, and emergency services now more than ever. People’s lives are at stake. Why would our federal government give top priority to anything else?”
Andria McClellan, a member of Norfolk’s city council, has seen an increase in demand for public services since the start of the public health emergency.
“Localities provide direct services to residents and businesses in the form of social services, housing, law enforcement, business development, transportation, education and more. We are seeing more demand for many of these services – and new ones, such as broadband connectivity – than ever. Yet, as a locality of less than 500,000, we aren’t able to tap into direct federal funding to provide these services, nor are we provided assistance to cover the sharp declines in local tax revenues and fees we are experiencing due to Covid-19. This is a double whammy, and we need the federal government to provide local assistance to ensure we can continue to support our citizens and businesses.”
The importance of these priorities is felt across the state, from big cities to rural counties.
“None of us knows how deep this will go or how long the pandemic will last. We need to revisit the small business owners and individuals who were overlooked and forgotten. It’s time to help those who need it the most,” said Fred Parker, Treasurer of Washington County.
“We are required to operate with balanced budgets. Local governments can’t print ‘more money.’ Revenues lost from the pandemic, result in direct budget cuts to desperately needed services, and that impacts citizens at every level,” Parker added.
For Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed, flexibility in funding is a priority.
“We are thankful for the support that our federal government has provided thus far and we hope that in the next round of support they will provide direct and flexible funding to localities,” said Reed. “The needs of our community are great during this difficult time and robust support from the federal government will help us manage this pandemic the best we can.”
Virginia Organizing has delivered the letter to all 13 members of Virginia’s congressional delegation.
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