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Bailing Out State, Local Governments

It has been nearly three months since President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, providing more than $2 trillion to help Americans cope with the COVID-19 epidemic.

West Virginia state government has received $1.25 billion — but it appears not a dime of that can be spent on the most pressing need of state and local governments. That is making up for budget revenue lost due to business shutdowns and slowdowns linked to the epidemic.

CARES Act money can be used for expenses directly connected to battling the coronavirus, but not to cover budget revenue lost by local and state governments. U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, are among a small group of lawmakers who want to remedy that.

Their Coronavirus Relief Fund Flexibility Act (S3638) would allow use of part of CARES Act allocations to backfill local and state budgets affected adversely by the COVID-19 crisis.

Why it has taken so long for other senators to agree to S3638 is beyond us. Their own towns, counties and states have suffered, too. Senators should approve S3638, as should House of Representatives members, as soon as possible. Funding handed out to the states needs to be used where it is needed most — to repair budgets.

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