June 12, 2020

Manchin Bill Requires Governor To Give COVID-19 Pandemic Funding To Local Governments

Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Local Government Relief Act which directs states governments to provide local governments with the funding received through the CARES Act, per the U.S. Department of Treasury’s recent guidance. The Local Government Relief Act would require all states to provide 45% of the funds they received through the Coronavirus Relief Fund to local governments under 500,000 by June 30th. If states are not able to do so, they would be required to provide a detailed report on why, which would be published in the Federal Register.

“Nearly three months ago, Congress passed the CARES Act, establishing the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to serve as a lifeline for state and local governments who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the local governments in West Virginia haven’t seen a penny of that money despite repeated requests by Congress to get the money out the door and repeated clarifications from the Treasury Department on how these funds should be used,” Senator Manchin said. “That’s why I introduced the Local Government Relief Act to direct state governments to provide local governments with a portion of the funding they desperately need right now. Congress always intended the swift allocation of these funds so the relief could reach those who needed it the most. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to quickly pass this commonsense legislation. Our local governments can’t wait any longer.”

“We appreciate our West Virginia leaders keeping local governments involved as we move forward during this unprecedented period. CARES Act funding is imperative for local government service delivery and we value the conversations taking place that can help identify the best way to help our counties and cities,” said Jennifer Piercy, Executive Director of the County Commissioners Association West Virginia, Travis Blosser, Executive Director of the West Virginia Municipal League, and Jonathan Adler, Executive Director of the West Virginia Association of Counties.

“West Virginia’s Local Health departments are fighting the COVID-19 fight every day without reimbursement for many of the expenses being incurred,” said Boyd Vanhorn, President of the West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments. “Absent some type of immediate assistance, it will become increasingly difficult for our members to sustain efforts to protect the public from the Coronavirus. Our staffs are working seven-day weeks and we need to build our infrastructure and bring on additional staff which allows us to meet the demands of this fight and meet our other public health duties. Absent help, our departments will have to make tough decisions moving forward.”

The CARES Act included $150 billion for states to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a minimum of $1.25 billion per state. Recent guidance released by the Treasury Department made it clear that States should transfer funds they received through the Coronavirus Relief Fund to local governments under 500,000 in population. Chronically underfunded local health departments have been on the frontlines of this crisis and are eligible for payroll relief through these funds. Of the 48 local health departments in West Virginia, 13% have less than 30 days cash on hand. Fire and EMS – which are facing $1.4 billion in budget losses – are also eligible. However, the National League of Cities recently released a report indicating that 32 states had not spent any of the funds they received.

Timeline of Senator Manchin’s work supporting local governments can be found here.

Bill text can be found here