July 31, 2020

JOINT RELEASE: LAWMAKERS CALL FOR STATE AID, EXTENSION OF UI BENEFITS

In letter to Colorado Congressional delegation, members request funding for schools and housing, utility, nutrition and small business assistance

Denver, CO – Democratic lawmakers in the General Assembly today sent a letter to the Colorado Congressional delegation urging swift passage of a coronavirus relief package that includes significant aid to states and local governments, education funding, and housing, utility, nutrition, and small business assistance.

“We write to you to urge swift passage of a coronavirus relief package that first and foremost includes significant and flexible aid to state and local governments, to help preserve core functions and services for Coloradans amidst the budget crisis,” the members wrote. “We also hope to see an extension of critical unemployment insurance benefits, nutrition benefits, housing assistance, small business support, resources for schools and funding to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. We firmly believe that the proposal released this week by the Senate falls short of meeting the needs of our state in this pivotal moment, and we appeal to you to keep working to incorporate these critical components.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans are agonizing over their financial future, and many are within days or weeks of being unable to pay their bills or losing their homes. We urge you once again to take swift action on behalf of our state to deliver a coronavirus relief package that meets the needs of our communities,” the lawmakers concluded.

Nonpartisan organizations across the country, including the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association, have also called for additional and flexible aid to state and local governments.

The full text of the letter is below and can be read here:

July 31, 2020

The Honorable Michael Bennet United State SenatorThe Honorable Cory Gardner United States SenatorThe Honorable Diana DeGette Member of CongressThe Honorable Joe Neguse Member of CongressThe Honorable Scott Tipton Member of CongressThe Honorable Ken Buck Member of CongressThe Honorable Doug Lamborn Member of CongressThe Honorable Jason Crow Member of CongressThe Honorable Ed Perlmutter Member of Congress

Dear Members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation:

We deeply appreciate your dedication to our state and determined advocacy on behalf of our communities as Congress crafts its latest, and potentially final, coronavirus relief package. The federal resources you have secured to date have served as an essential lifeline for our communities, mitigating the impact of crippling budget cuts to our schools, universities, public health departments and local governments. Yet without further Congressional action, our state will have to reduce services for those who need them the most while thousands of Coloradans lose the economic assistance that has sustained them through this crisis so far.

We write to you to urge swift passage of a coronavirus relief package that first and foremost includes significant and flexible aid to state and local governments, to help preserve core functions and services for Coloradans amidst the budget crisis. We also hope to see an extension of critical unemployment insurance benefits, nutrition benefits, housing assistance, small business support, resources for schools and funding to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. We firmly believe that the proposal released this week by the Senate falls short of meeting the needs of our state in this pivotal moment, and we appeal to you to keep working to incorporate these critical components.

This year, we had to make significant cuts to the state’s budget to close a $3.3 billion deficit. These cuts have been painful, and the next few years will be even harder, as many of the reductions were one-time cuts that will not be available to lawmakers in the future. Furthermore, some of the most significant reductions were absorbed by institutions that received federal aid, which helped cushion some of the impact of the cuts. Failing to provide additional support would undoubtedly exacerbate our state’s devastating budget crisis and pull the rug out from under our school districts, local governments, and universities who would feel the full brunt of potentially even deeper cuts next year. To meet the needs of our state, the next coronavirus relief package must include at least $500 billion in flexible aid to states and additional funding for local governments, K-12 education and higher education.

As lawmakers, we have all seen first hand the devastation this pandemic has had on our communities. If Congress does not boost the federal pandemic response and renew key programs, such as expanded unemployment insurance, we fear that the consequences borne by hardworking Coloradans will only be exacerbated. The legislature has taken swift action to direct federal resources to help Coloradans pay their rent, mortgage and utility bills and to support our small businesses, but this funding will not be enough.

The next coronavirus relief package must also include additional housing, utility and small business assistance to bolster our state’s successful relief programs and stimulate our economy. Congress should increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15 percent, as more and more Colorado families rely on food pantries and nonprofit assistance. With many Coloradans struggling financially, the demand for these key programs has never been higher. We know Colorado can channel additional assistance directly to businesses and hardworking families to help them make ends meet, but we need Congress to act.

Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans are agonizing over their financial future, and many are within days or weeks of being unable to pay their bills or losing their homes. We urge you once again to take swift action on behalf of our state to deliver a coronavirus relief package that meets the needs of our communities.