HARRISBURG, July 15 – Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, Democratic Whip Jordan Harris and Democratic Appropriations Chairman Matt Bradford, on behalf of the entire Pa. House Democratic Caucus, today sent a letter to U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., urging them to support the HEROES Act.
The U.S. House of Representatives in May passed the HEROES Act to provide much-needed continued relief to Americans through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the U.S. Senate has failed to take action.
The full letter is as follows:
Dear Senator Casey and Senator Toomey:
It has been nearly two months since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act to support Americans as they weather the unprecedented health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the Senate has failed to take action on this important legislation. With cases rising across the country and again in Pennsylvania — creating an even more serious strain on our health care systems and testing capacity as we move toward fall — federal leadership is desperately needed to help Pennsylvanians get the care they need and the protections they deserve. In May, the Pennsylvania General Assembly worked with Governor Tom Wolf to pass an interim, partial budget, but the fate of many essential services depends on your actions to provide additional support to states.
The budgetary challenge caused by the coronavirus pandemic is at least as large as what the commonwealth faced from 2007 to 2009, when Federal aid helped buoy our economy in the teeth of the Great Recession. Additional fiscal relief for the commonwealth is critical to maintain essential public services that Pennsylvanians depend on, and will promote economic recovery. The same is true for local governments.
As children and teachers prepare to return to the classroom in just a few weeks, school districts face rising costs to ensure safe learning environments – including health and safety, technology, and transportation. While the CARES Act provided federal relief to help address some of these costs, local revenues are expected to fall by an estimated 6.4% for the median district in Pennsylvania. If the state is forced to resolve its budgetary challenges alone through cuts, all programs will be at risk. Education is the second largest portion of Pennsylvania’s budget. Further, funding cuts will have a greater impact on school districts more reliant on state support, meaning our poorer districts that are struggling the most will face even more uncertainty in their ability to provide high quality education.
Without additional fiscal relief, racial, socioeconomic, and geographic inequities already present in our commonwealth will continue to grow, at odds with the voice of the nation united to demand change. On behalf of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus, we ask you to support the HEROES Act and urge your Senate leadership to do the same. Thank you for your immediate attention to, and consideration of, this urgent and vital legislation.
Frank Dermody, Democratic Leader
Jordan A. Harris, Democratic Whip
Matt Bradford, Democratic Chair, House Appropriations Committee
Click here to view the letter.