April 28, 2020

Senators ask for more flexibility for states, tribal and local governments on COVID-19 relief funds

Capitol Hill Building, Washington DC

U.S. Senators want the Trump administration to remove what they call needless, bureaucratic restrictions on how states can use funding from coronavirus relief efforts.

The Senators, including New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, argued that state, local and tribal governments should be able to use funds from the CARES Act to repay lost revenue and help them balance budgets.

The two joined 44 other U.S. Senators who signed onto a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, which said that the administration added red tape that was not included in the law passed by Congress.

“To avoid distracting states, Tribes, and localities from meeting the crisis at hand, the Treasury Department should publicly confirm that states, Tribes and localities may use these funds to maintain their essential services as the CARES Act clearly permits,” the letter states.

States have seen their revenue plummet as many have issued stay-at-home orders and economic activity has declined. In New Mexico, this combined with the collapse in oil and gas revenue have led to unprecedented budget troubles. Senate Finance Committee chairman John Arthur Smith told NM Political Report last week that he hoped for financial aid from the federal government.

Also last week, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller told NM Political Report that he hoped to be able to use federal money to make up for lost tax revenue.