A grassroots coalition of local government, labor, and business is launching a new campaign “Support Local Recovery: Vibrant Cities. Strong Economies.” in an effort to kick start economic recovery in local communities. The coalition is calling on the state to provide $7 billion in direct and flexible funding to cities to support critical local services, as well as a portion of the state’s CARES Act funding to help cities address COVID-19 related expenditures. The coalition is also calling on the federal government to provide $500 billion in direct and flexible funding to local governments nationwide to support essential services, including police, fire, public works, permitting, and planning.
According to a League of California Cities analysis, California cities are facing a nearly $7 billion revenue shortfall over the next two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This shortfall grows by billions of dollars as modified stay-at-home orders extend into the summer months and beyond. Cities have also been incurring significant increases in unbudgeted expenses responding to the crisis. COVID-19 has crippled local budgets, forcing cuts in city services and city employees, which will dampen local economic recovery.
“California’s 482 cities are the economic engines of our state, and recovery from this unprecedented crisis will only be realized at the local level with the strong support of our state and federal government partners,” said Carolyn Coleman, Executive Director, League of California Cities. “Providing funding to local governments is not optional – a safe, equitable, and expedited economic recovery depends on it.”
In the face of these budget shortfalls, nine out of 10 cities report they will have to cut staff or decrease city services to residents, and nearly 3 in 4 cities report they may have to take both actions. Police services will be impacted in eighty-four percent of cities, more than half of cities’ fire services will be adversely impacted, and fewer firefighters and police officers will be available to respond to emergency calls.
“With firefighters on the front lines of the COVID-19 response and wildfire season now upon us, cuts to public safety during this critical time will have detrimental impacts on our communities across the state,” said Brian K. Rice, President of California Professional Firefighters. “We need every single firefighter on the front lines to beat back this virus and stand ready when disaster strikes. It is imperative that the federal government invest in our cities to preserve public safety.”
Shrinking budgets will also lead to reduced garbage pickup frequency, reduced hours for libraries, parks, and senior centers, and fewer employees working on streets and roads. Eighty-two percent of cities predict cuts to public works.
“Drastic budget cuts, furloughs, hiring freezes, and layoffs in state and local government and in schools made the last recession much worse and prolonged Californians’ pain,” said Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU California and SEIU Local 721. “In fact, because of this approach, many Californians have still not recovered the ground they lost a decade ago. That is why we are calling on the federal government to act swiftly and invest in recovery for our communities as we battle the pandemic and support working families in our time of need.”
California’s businesses, who are vital to local recovery, will be impacted by these budget shortfalls as well. Fewer city staff will mean delays in inspections necessary for reopening, processing business licenses, permitting, and other essential government services that businesses rely upon.
“From corner store to city supermarket, grocers depend on core city services to run their businesses and feed our communities,” said Ron Fong, California Grocers Association president and CEO. “Cities need funding from the state and federal governments so they can continue to deliver these essential services and be the foundation for a strong local economy as California recovers from COVID-19.”
Together, we are fighting to support local recovery. Californians are depending on us.
For more information about the coalition and how to join, visit http://supportlocalrecovery.org
Coalition members as of 1 p.m., May 11, 2020 include:
Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC)
Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs
Avenue Insights and Analytics
Boots In Squares
California Professional Firefighters
California Grocers Association
California Joint Powers Insurance Authority
California Parks & Recreation Society
California Water Service
City of Hemet
Community Leadership Council – Palm Springs
Contract Cities Association
Desert AIDS Project
Desert Valleys Builders Association
Desert Winds Freedom Band
EIGHT4NINE Restaurant & Lounge
El Mirasol Villas
Gay Desert Guide
Gay Mart International, Inc.
Greater Palm Springs Bar and Restaurant Organization
Greater Palm Springs Pride
Hunter J. Dog, LLC dba Blackbook
Kamp Mor Inc
La Maison Hotel
Las Casuelas Terraza
League of California Cities
Main Street Hanford
Management Association of Palm Springs, Inc.
Martha’s Village and Kitchen
Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce
Monterey Bay Chapter of American Public Works Association
Murchison Holdings LLC dba Eagle 501 Bar
NHA Advisors, LLC
Palm Springs Fire Management Association
PFLAG Palm Springs/Desert Communities
Prime Timers of the Desert
Public Employees Association of Palm Springs
Resource Recovery Coalition of California
Service Employees International Union California
The Advancement Collective