WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call with Ohio mayors as he introduces legislation, the Direct Support for Communities Act, which would create a fund to provide direct assistance to Ohio cities, towns, villages and counties struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial strain on local communities puts public services for local residents at risk, including funding for public safety and public health.
“Over and over, I hear the same thing from communities large and small, rural and urban: they need more resources from the federal government,” said Brown. “I’m hopeful that with a new administration and a new Congress, we’re finally going to be able to provide all Ohio communities with the help they need.”
Brown was joined on the call by Ohio Mayors Tito Brown of Youngstown and Steve Patterson of Athens to discuss the need for dedicated funding for local communities in Ohio.
“What our communities really need is more direct funding to help our residents with services like rent and mortgage relief, utilities and child care expense relief,” said Mayor Patterson.
“Ohio's cities are facing immense fiscal pressure while our essential workers continue serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever local communities need direct fiscal assistance to ensure an effective distribution of the vaccines, and an inclusive and sustainable recovery. We appreciate Sen. Brown's efforts to secure federal support for our essential workers, public safety personnel, and our communities,” said Keary McCarthy, Executive Director of the Ohio Mayors Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of mayors in Ohio’s largest cities.
The Direct Support for Communities Act would create a fund that would provide the nation’s cities, towns, villages, and counties with direct federal assistance that provides necessary relief on lost revenues and increased costs from the COVID-19 emergency. This fund would be split 50/50. Half would be committed to cities, towns, and villages. The other half would be committed to counties. The portion of emergency fiscal assistance for counties would largely be allocated across all counties based on population.
Brown has long called for increased funding and flexibility for local governments in Ohio amid the coronavirus pandemic. Brown recently applauded the COVID-19 economic rescue package released by President Biden that includes $350 billion in state and local funding to help states and municipalities across Ohio with revenue loss due to this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
In July 2020, Brown joined 36 of his Senate colleagues in sending a letter to then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell requesting that he support the funding amount and proposed funding flexibility for state and local governments that was included in the HEROES Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. McConnell failed to include dedicated local government funding in any of the subsequent COVID relief packages.
In December, Brown joined bipartisan legislation to extend the then-year-end deadline for states and local governments to use federal CARES Act assistance from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The deadline was eventually extended in the year-end government funding package.