Western States Pact Asks for $1 Trillion in Coronavirus Relief

Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses the reopening of businesses during a news conference at Twiggs Floral Design Gallery in Sacramento, Calif. on May 8, 2020.

Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses the reopening of businesses during a news conference at Twiggs Floral Design Gallery in Sacramento, Calif. on May 8, 2020. AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE & LOCAL ROUNDUP | Feds begin looking at Ahmaud Arbery case … South Dakota Sioux tribe refuses to remove highway checkpoints … Illinois governor to work from home.

Five western states are asking Congress to provide $1 trillion to help them and local governments survive the recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado all joined together to form the Western States Pact last month, pledging to coordinate how they reopen and loosen stay-at-home orders as a region. “Without federal support, states and cities will be forced to make impossible decisions—like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders,” the governors, all Democrats, and state legislators wrote in a letter to House and Senate leadership. The $1 trillion would help the states and localities sustain needed services at a time when they are facing serious tax revenue shortfalls, they explained. Congressional Democrats have said they want to see a new coronavirus package that addresses state and local government needs. But key Republicans haven’t been as supportive, suggesting that it would amount to a “bailout” of what they categorized as irresponsible blue states with inflated budgets. (For their part, the nonpartisan National Governors Association has asked Congress to provide just states with at least $500 billion). In their letter, the western leaders nodded to this debate, saying all states are going to face tough budget decisions without help. “Red and blue states alike all are faced with the same COVID-19 math, as are Democratic and Republican mayors across our states. The moment requires unprecedented partnership from all of us—across every level of government and across party,” they wrote. [Western States Pact letter; The Mercury News; KABC-TV]

GEORGIA SHOOTING CASE | The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday said the agency is weighing whether to file hate crimes charges in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. On Sunday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr asked the FBI to investigate how local law enforcement and local prosecutors handled the case. The two white men who shot Arbery, a black man living outside Brunswick, Georgia, weren’t arrested for more than two months, with the case only getting attention from the state after cell phone video was released. Meanwhile, Carr on Monday assigned a new prosecutor to the case. [Atlanta Journal Constitution; Washington Post]

SOUTH DAKOTA RESERVATION BATTLE | A South Dakota Sioux tribe rejected Gov. Kristi Noem’s demands that they remove checkpoints on federal and state highways on their reservation. Noem called the checkpoints illegal and threatened to take legal action. But Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said the checkpoints are the only mechanism the tribe has to keep people coming from hotspots off reservation land. "With the lack of resources we have medically, this is our best tool we have right now to try to prevent [the spread of Covid-19]," he said. [CNN; Argus Leader]

CHILDREN AND CORONAVIRUS | A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics looked at 48 cases of children who ended up in the hospital after becoming infected with Covid-19. The study, which included patients ranging in age from infants to 21-year-olds, showed that most of the patients had pre-existing conditions. Two died and 18 ended up needing to be on ventilators to assist with their breathing. “You can read this either like a half-empty glass or a half-full glass. At the end of the day, we have to realize that this disease can actually be serious in children,” said Dr. Daniele De Luca, the president-elect of the European Society for Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care, who wasn’t involved in the study. [New York Times]

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR QUARANTINE | Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and his staff will all work from home for some period after a senior staff member tested positive for Covid-19, Pritzker’s office said Monday. The staff member, who was asymptomatic but tested positive late last week, had been in close contact with the governor. Pritzker was tested again on Sunday and was negative for the disease.  [Chicago Sun Times]

Laura Maggi is the Managing Editor at Route Fifty. 

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