August 04, 2020

Layoffs, budget cuts loom if Senate Republicans don’t act

President Trump and Senate Republicans are refusing to include critical aid to state and local governments in a new federal coronavirus relief package. Gov. JB Pritzker said without the federal aid, layoffs and cuts in state government are inevitable.

He said it’s up to Congress to act.

“They’re the ones who have the ability to help us and to help all 50 states with the challenge we all have… there are going to be layoffs across the country,” he warned at a press conference. “I continue to do my part to make calls, to make sure that people understand that Republican-led states and Democratic-led states all have this challenge of revenues that fell off a cliff because of COVID-19.”

Illinois is not alone. From March to May, 46 states saw their revenue fall significantly from March to May this year and the outlook is even worse as record-high unemployment hit state coffers hard—and families’ livelihoods too.

Despite that strain, Senate Republicans are also blocking continuation of the supplemental unemployment insurance benefit that has helped laid off workers make ends meet since the start of the pandemic. Without that $600 a week lifeline, laid off workers won’t be able to put food on the table for their families or pay their rent and mortgages.

“I live paycheck to paycheck when I'm working. But I was able to provide them at least the things that they need,” one laid off worker told NBC News. “It's like your life before the pandemic turns upside down.”

AFSCME has been urging the Senate to pass the Heroes Act with the same level of aid to states and local governments, and to restore the supplemental unemployment benefit to laid off workers. But so far, the Senate isn’t moving.

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