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New Campaign Calls for Funding to Help Cities Emerge Vibrant and Strong from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over 90 Organizations Join the Coalition to “Support Local Recovery”

May 13, 2020
The League has spearheaded a new grassroots coalition of local government, labor representatives, small businesses, and nonprofits, calling for direct and flexible funding to cities from the state and federal government to ensure cities can deliver services to residents and businesses during and after the pandemic. 
Since the May 11 launch, more than 90 organizations have joined the “Support Local Recovery: Vibrant Cities. Strong Economies.” campaign and we are encouraging all cities to join in this movement.

Over the last several weeks, the League of California Cities has focused on advocating for funding for all cities to address the impacts of COVID-19 on our communities, and this campaign is part of that effort. 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.

All cities large and small are incurring significant increased expenses and devastating blows to local budgets as they respond to this crisis, forcing cuts to city services and city employees. According to a League analysis, cities face a $7 billion revenue shortfall over the next two years due to COVID-19, which will grow by billions of dollars as modified stay-at-home orders extend into the summer months and beyond.

“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 League of California Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman. “Providing funding to local governments is not optional — a safe, equitable, and expedited economic recovery depends on it.”

As a result of the 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 84 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 California Professional Firefighters President Brian K. Rice. “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 SEIU California and SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover. “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 California Grocers Association President and CEO Ron Fong. “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."

Recovery from this crisis will require strong support from our state and federal government partners to ensure resources are available to enable our communities to emerge vibrant and strong. Together, we are fighting to support local recovery. Californians are depending on us.

For more information about the coalition and how to join, visit www.supportlocalrecovery.org.   

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