To support bipartisan federal legislation that would provide $500 billion in aid for hard-hit communities and schools across the country, the NJSBA is providing a sample resolution that boards can use to encourage Congress to act.
Because tax-generating businesses were forced to close by the coronavirus pandemic, New Jersey is facing an estimated $10 billion budget shortfall between now and June 2021. Legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.) and Bill Cassidy, (R-La.), would deliver critical, federal resources to states and communities on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight. The State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act would provide $500 billion in emergency funding to areas hit hardest by the pandemic. New Jersey has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, trailing only New York and California.
The money could be used by state governments to aid schools and avoid layoffs, Menendez said at a press conference last month.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who represent a cross-section of the country’s broad political spectrum, have signed on as original cosponsors, further reinforcing the bipartisan nature of support for the SMART Fund.
“States and local communities shut down when the federal government asked and then lost billions in sales tax and other revenue. These states (and) communities either lay off workers or they get help. The SMART Act helps. The SMART Act keeps the thin blue line, firefighters and teachers from being casualties of Covid-19. It keeps our communities alive,” said Sen. Cassidy.
“In the midst of a national emergency, the federal government cannot sit on its hands and watch our communities go bankrupt and our people suffer. This isn’t a blue state or red state issue—this is an American issue—and it requires a national response,” said Sen. Menendez. “The SMART Fund is the commonsense, reasonable and bipartisan approach our frontline states and communities need to deliver them the necessary flexible funding to defeat COVID-19, maintain critical services, avoid mass layoffs and tax increases, and expedite our economic recovery.”
First unveiled by Cassidy and Menendez last month, the SMART Fund answers the bipartisan call for help from our nation’s governors by providing $500 billion in flexible funding to states to help cover rising costs to combat COVID-19 and lost revenues due to the economic fallout. Without this federal assistance, governors, mayors and county leaders have warned of deep cuts to essential services and layoffs of police, firefighters, paramedics, teachers, sanitation, public health and public works employees, and other frontline workers.
These funds can be used to help state and local governments meet the current demand, expand testing capacity and contact tracing, provide further assistance to residents, local hospitals, small businesses and schools, in addition to maintaining critical services residents depend upon. The bill prohibits the use of funds for deposit into any state or state-affiliated pension fund.
The bill can be found here.