Local leaders call on Gov. Hogan to fill in gap after state, local governments left out of federal COVID-19 relief bill
MARYLAND – Now that Congress has passed their historic $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, all that’s left to do is for President Donald Trump to sign or veto it. But local leaders are already looking ahead to any future relief funding. “I’m disappointed it does not include the direct assistance to state, county, and local governments. It should’ve had that in it,” said Maryland U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.
Sen. Cardin, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp called for Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to dip into the state’s rainy day fund and Fiscal Year 2020 General Fund Balance to fill in the gap during a Zoom conference on Wednesday. “We have not only a responsibility, but a great interest in supporting state and local government now. Just as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we have to get there,” said Treasurer Kopp.
Comptroller Franchot says he estimates about $1 billion is available from the rainy day fund, and more than $585 million could come out of the fund balance. The Comptroller says he thinks those funds should be used by local government to help the families struggling the most. “There are lines of people standing in the hours waiting for free boxes of food. I know that happens a little bit in Maryland, but right now it’s happening all over the state,” said Comptroller Franchot.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cardin says the good news is Maryland will see about $9 billion when it comes to funding programming like education or transportation. But he hopes President Donald Trump approves the COVID-19 relief bill, and the next Congress will continue to work on more relief packages. “There will be a new Congress starting on January the third. That will obviously have an impact on how we deal with new packages,” said Sen. Cardin.
On the local level, Acting Mayor of Salisbury Julia Glanz says she was hopeful that direct funding would be made available local government. But Acting Mayor Glanz says not getting direct funding won’t stop what the city is doing to help. “We’re getting creative and we’re hopeful that in 2021 something else will follow,” said Acting Mayor Glanz.
President Trump hasn’t yet said whether he will sign the bill or not. Sen. Cardin tells us that the delay in the decision is quote troubling. He adds that a COVID-19 relief bill like the one Congress just passed should have happened months ago. Sen. Cardin also says that the COVID-19 relief bill isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance until President Trump signs it. He says fiscal year funding for the federal government could also see delays until the president puts pen to paper.